Nutrition Articles

Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Corn

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles

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Sweet corn is easy to grow and delicious straight off the stalk, grilled, or boiled. Corn can be white, yellow, bicolor and even red.

Hardiness Zones:
4-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Directly sow seeds in mid to late spring. Try planting several varieties with different maturation rates to extend your harvest. Sow seeds in trenches that are 4-6 inches deep and 18 inches apart. Sow the seeds 4 inches apart and thin the plants to space them 12 inches apart.

Conditions:
Corn needs heavily enriched soil that is nitrogen-rich. Soil should be loose with a neutral pH. Corn needs full sun.

Space Needed:
The average corn stalk is between 6 and 8 feet tall. To eliminate the need for hand pollinating (see below), plant at least a 10 x 10 foot block of corn.

Maintenance:
Corn is pollinated by the wind so you can't plant it in a single row or else the male tassels will never come in contact with the female silks. If you are unable to plant blocks of corn, you will have to hand-pollinate them yourself. Simply remove the male tassels and touch them onto the female silks. Apply a complete organic fish emulsion fertilizer biweekly. Water deeply once a week if rain is inadequate. Raccoons love corn, so you'll need some crafty deterrent methods to keep them away.

When to Harvest:
Corn matures in 65-90 days, depending on the variety. Squeeze the ears to test for appropriate firmness and bulk. The ears will be a rich green color and the tassels will turn brown when they are ready to be picked, which is about 20 days following the emergence of the first silk strands.

Average Yield:
A 10 x 10 foot block will yield approximately 50 pounds of corn.

Continuous Yield:
No

Life Cycle:
Annual

Difficulty Rating (1-5):
4

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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

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