Thursday, 21 July 2011

My sweetcorn growing tips (how my sweetcorn became the envy of the allotment site)

Thanks again to my Dad for passing on these great sweetcorn growing tips.

  • First of all I grow my sweetcorn in the border soil inside a greenhouse – it performs much better here than it does outside.
  • I sow 2 sweetcorn seeds into a large peat pot and place them into a greenhouse propagator (you only need a propagator earlier on in the season when the temperature's cooler)
  • Once the seedlings pop up and are about 2 inch/5cm high remove the weaker seedling
  • Once the seedlings are about 6 inches/15cm tall plant them into the border soil
  • Plant the peat pots directly into the border soil (sweetcorn doesn't like its roots disturbing)
  • Remove the top part of the peat pot (it can act as a wick and stop water getting to the plant), ensure the pot is buried under the soil
  • Plant the sweetcorn 12 inches/30cm apart in a grid pattern
  • Position the plants so the leaves are parallel to the greenhouse path - otherwise they'll take over your path when they’re bigger
  • Watch out for slugs when the plants are small (use some organic slug pellets)
  • If the plant tilts when growing straighten it out gently by supporting it with soil around its base
  • Be careful not to damage the roots when hoeing - sweetcorn doesn’t like its roots being damaged
  • Feed weekly with liquid seaweed
  • When tassles (strings) appear on the cobs tap the plants to ensure pollination takes place (dust/pollen will fall off the top of the plant onto the tassles)
  • Feed with (organic) tomato food once the cobs start to swell
  • Once the cobs swell keep them well watered
  • Pick the sweetcorn when the tassles go brown - don't leave it too late or they will go off
  • You can tell when the corn is ready by inserting your nail into one of the niblets (can't think of the right word!) and if the liquid comes out milky it's ready
  • Only pick cobs when you are ready to eat them - the sooner you eat them after picking the sweeter and fresher they'll be
  • Grow one variety - don't mix varieties as they'll cross-pollinate and you'll get strange results
  • My recommended sweetcorn variety is Lark
  • Grow some squash underneath the corn (they grow well together) and squash help to suppress weeds.  You'll need to hand pollinate squash under glass and watch out for the flowers rotting the baby fruit.  Squash plants get huge in the greenhouse so space them out well.
  • Place the cobs in boiling water and boil for 7 minutes.
  • Eat with plenty of butter, salt and pepper.
  • Buy some of those corn holders to help you eat your corn.
My sweetcorn always ends up taller than me and tastes amazing, so much better than supermarket corn, it's also a very easy to maintain crop, when compared to melons or tomatoes. Happy growing! I hope you found these tips useful. Please leave me a comment if you have any of your own tips to share.

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