Fresh sweet corn for grilling, roasting, or boiling is easy to grow in a home garden. Field corn, which has a less sweet flavor, is just as easy to grow and can be used just like sweet corn or for animal feed.
Sweet or field corn, whether yellow, white, or a mixture of both colors, is easy to grow with these growing tips.
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Location and Soil Preparation
Select a location that is in full sun and then begin to prepare the soil. Corn is a heavy feeder and garden soil has to be prepared by amending it with organic material before planting seeds.
Compost, well-rotted animal manure, ground limestone and possibly potash should be worked into soil before planting corn. If you need to do a soil analysis, call your local NRSC office or do your own test with a soil test kit.
Ideally, garden soil preparation for growing a corn crop will start in advance by tilling the soil and growing a winter cover crop. If you have not had time to grow a cover crop then consider a good all-purpose organic fertilizer.
If soil is prepared in the spring, allow it to rest for 2 weeks before planting corn.
Corn seeds need warm soil and air temperatures to germinate. Seeds will rot if the soil is cold, so don’t be in a hurry to plant corn in the spring. Wait until air temperature is above 60 degrees for 3 consecutive days and all danger of frost has passed.
Prepare your rows so they are 30 to 36 inches apart. Plant corn 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in prepared soil. Cover with dirt and tamp into place to set seeds.
If you are planting in the circle method, plant corn seeds in a circle 12 to 16 inches in diameter. Plant 5 to 8 seeds evenly on the outer edge of the circle. Cover with dirt and tamp into place to set seeds.
Field corn, which grows bigger stalks and larger ears of corn, will need to be planted 1 foot apart. Each stalk of corn will produce 1-2 ears and all the ears will ripen at the same time.
To harvest fresh ears of corn for several weeks during the summer, use succession planting. Plant corn seeds every 2 weeks for a continual harvest.
Companion Planting or Mulching
Corn has very shallow roots and will need to have other garden plants growing at the stalk base to protect the soil surface or the corn stalks will need to be heavily mulched.
An ideal companion planting method that has been used for centuries is known as ‘The Three Sisters’ and consists of corn, squash and green beans growing together for mutual benefit. The corn stalks provide a trellis for the green beans and squash plants provide shade for the corn roots. Here is a pack of Three Sisters Crops.
If you choose to plant the Three Sisters method, allow 2-feet of space between and allow corn to reach 6 inches tall before planting the green beans and squash. If you don’t use the Three Sisters method, apply 4 inches of mulch around corn stalks when they are 6 inches tall.
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It’s a Wrap
Sweet corn is one of those super fun garden crops. The stalks are tall, the growth rate can be impressive, and freshly picked sweet corn is simply delicious! With so many varieties of corn available these days, we are sure you will find just the right ones to fit your needs in your venture on how to grow corn in your garden!