Time To Grow Sweet Corn


Want to know how to get kids to eat their vegies? Feed them sweet corn – it’s the vegie that kids most love. Sweet corn is easy to grow but, if your kids are really keen, remember that each corn plant will only produce one or two cobs so you’ll need plenty of plants.

Corn likes a nice sunny spot with some protection from strong winds. It also requires rich, fertile soil, which means preparing well beforehand by digging in lots of manure or compost and adding some quality fertiliser. Dynamic Lifter PLUS Leafy Vegetable Food would be a great fertiliser choice because it combines composted chicken manure with added nutrients.

While corn is a heat loving plant that grows easily from seed, the seeds won’t germinate until the soil is warm. This is why November’s the ideal month to sow in most areas. Even then, the seeds can be a bit finicky so it’s often suggested to sow two seeds into the one hole. This doubles your chances of successful germination and, if both seeds come up, the weaker of the two plants can be removed. Plant more seeds every few weeks to ensure continuous cropping.

Yates has three varieties of sweet corn in its seed range. Early Chief, with its bright yellow kernels, is the traditional favourite. Honeysweet and Sun ’n’ Snow are supersweet varieties with a very high proportion of natural sugar in their cobs. Sun ‘n’ Snow, with its mix of yellow and white kernels, is appropriately named.

Corn’s growth will be set back if the plants lack fertiliser or get too dry. Keep well watered and, as the seedlings grow, mulch around the base of the plant with something like sugar cane or straw. The most important role of the mulch layer is to retain moisture in the soil. Feed every two weeks with some Thrive All Purpose Soluble Plant Food or the new Thrive All Purpose Liquid Plant Food.

The tassels that form at the top of the plant carry the all important pollen which must fall onto the silks, the thread-like pieces that come out of the incipient corn cob. Each silk carries the pollen back to a kernel, which then begins to swell. That’s why it’s so important to grow corn in blocks rather than single rows. Missing ‘teeth’ in your corn cob means there’s been a problem with pollination. Shaking the corn stalks will send clouds of pollen flying around and increase the chances of successful pollination.

When the silks turn brown, the cob is ready to pick. Another way to tell if the corn is ready is to press the end of your fingernail into a kernel. The fluid you squeeze out should be milky. If it’s still clear, the corn isn’t ready.

Pests don’t usually cause too many problems for sweet corn although corn earworm, a caterpillar that eats the kernels from within the protection of the husk, can be annoying. Cut away the affected section and protect the cob with a low toxic Yates Nature’s Way Pyrethrum spray.


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