Sweetcorn is a delicious vegetable, and many varieties have been developed to thrive in temperate climates.
There’s nothing quite like going and harvesting corn to make you think you’ve made it as a gardener, and if you give plants enough care and attention, having freshly picked corn on your table isn’t too difficult.
Sow sweetcorn in pots between mid-April and May, ensuring that seeds are kept at a minimum temperature of 10°C. Place two or three seeds in each pot at a depth of 2.5cm, and as seedlings grow, pinch out plants so that only the strongest sweetcorn of each trio survives. Plant out when the risk of frost has passed.
Most sweetcorn is pollinated by the wind, and so they need to grow in grids rather than rows, with plants placed 50 cm apart. It’s important to place sweetcorn in the right spot, so ensure that it’s sunny, sheltered and has been enriched with well rotted manure and a general purpose fertiliser.
Once plants are in place, it’s a good idea to add a layer of organic mulch around the base of plants to help keep the weeds down. This reduces weeding, allowing you to avoid damaging shallow roots.
Staking, pollinating and fertilising sweetcorn
Throughout the growing season, stake each plant and water well, especially when plants are in flower. At this time, you should also tap the tops of each plant to encourage pollination. When the sweetcorn cobs begin to develop, use a general purpose liquid feed every 10 days.
Cobs should be harvested when you can squeeze a grain and produce a small paste-like substance. They also lose their flavour quickly, so be ready to cook them as soon as they’re picked.