How to Grow Corn
Corn is one of the more popular vegetables grown by the backyard gardener. Nothing compares to corn fresh from the garden and cooked within 15 minutes of picking. Store bought corn can not even approach the sweetness and tenderness of home grown corn. Corn is available in hundreds of varieties and a suitable one can be found for practically any garden. While corn is easy to grow, it can be difficult if you are unaware of a few tips that will help you to succeed. And...that's what you will find here.
Unfortunately, many critters find your corn as delicious as you do, so expect some pilfering from birds, raccoons and squirrels if they are nearby. Corn is classified two ways: by sugar content and by color. The typical colors are white, yellow and bi-colored. The sugar varieties are supersweet (Sh2), normal sugar (SUSU) and sugary enhancer (SESE). Some varieties are affected by cross breeding if planted near each other so read the seed package instructions if you plant different varieties in the same garden.
Corn varies in height from 4 to 8 feet tall. Corn loves the sun and warm climates, so be sure to plant in direct sun. Corn seed should be planted directly in the garden after the soil warms and all danger of frost has pasted. It should be ready to eat in 65-90 days according to the variety. Corn requires a fair amount of space and be aware that the tall stalks will shade adjacent plants, so select an appropriate location. Because corn is wind pollinated, it does best when planted in blocks rather than rows. Pollen from the male tassels need to contact the female silks and close planting means more contact.
Corn is a heavy feeder so prepare the soil prior to planting with compost and well aged steer manure. Corn likes continual moist soil so water when needed but not to the point where it is soggy. Sweet corn is a long season crop. To extend the harvest, plant varieties that mature at different rates or stagger the planting time. You can expect one to two ears of corn per plant. Apply nitrogen fertilizer once the plants are about 8 inches tall and again when they start producing tassels. Keep the area free of weeds that will compete for food and water.
As stated earlier, animals will be the biggest pest problem. Corn borers can be kept in check with BT and by destroying the stalks at the end of the season. Smut, a grayish black fungus, can be a problem. Remove any grayish black masses from the leaves and destroy away from the garden. In general, however, back yard corn does not suffer from many pest or diseases.
Here's a tip on a yummy way to cook corn. Place a suitable pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Then pick the corn. You should pick the ears which have kernels that burst with a milky liquid when pressed with your fingernail. Immediately after picking, place the shucked ears of corn in the boiling water. Cook only 5 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with salt, butter or whatever you fancy. You'll never taste corn better than this.