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    Posted on May 28th, 2011 Pam No comments

    Believe it or not, corn is easy to grow. Follow a few simple steps and this fall eat the sweetest, freshest corn ever.

    My Dad always planted the corn. He planted Golden Bantam for years. I still plant one row of Golden Bantam, but the corn really isn’t that good to eat. They have much better corn now. I didn’t pay too much attention to how he planted the corn. Sometimes I would walk beside him as he would dig a hole in the row and I would drop in about four to five seeds. As he would cover up the corn, he would walk on the row to pack it down.

    Dad would say something like this: one seed not to sprout, one seed for the mouse, one for the bird and one for the house. Anyway he figured that if we planted five seeds at least two would grow to maturity. But as I began to plant corn myself, several other things I learned from my Dad came back to me. So as I plant my corn, I always use his steps along with a few things I have found to be successful.

    1. First of all I soak the corn overnight, I put the corn in a quart bottle and fill it with water. Last year I used about three quarts, but you probably won’t need that much. The corn will double in size, so plan for that when choosing a container.
    2. Dig a furrow 3″ deep.
    3. Fill the furrow with water and let it soak in.
    4. Plant ‘hills of corn’ five kernels in each hole, with hills about one foot apart.
    5. Then fill in the furrow. I usually rake the top of the row to make it smooth.

    The cool thing is, the roots of the corn will be able to go down through the soft damp soil and the corn leaves and stem will go through the dry dirt easily. NOTE: If you do soak the rows first, DO NOT water the top of the furrow after you plant, the seeds will not need more water. If you do water the top, it will cause a crust to form on top of the row and will make it more difficult for the corn to break through.

    Another thing my Dad taught me is to side dress the corn. He would fertilize two or three times during the Summer. I fertilize after the corn is about 18″ tall and once a month after that. To side dress, carefully dig a small furrow beside the row of corn. Put about two tablespoons of granule garden fertilizer next to the hill of corn and water it in.

    Now here is my Dads best kept secret. When the corn is about 12 to 18″ tall twist off the suckers. Suckers are the side stems that grow out from the main stem at a 45 degree angle. The suckers rob the corn stocks of their strength, so twist them off as soon as you can. They will not grow back. After you remove the suckers, the corn will grow much faster. At the same time you are twisting the suckers, thin the hills to 2 to 3 of the strongest plants. When you are removing the suckers and thinning the corn, hill up the corn rows. Take a hoe or rake and pull dirt up around the corn. This will make the corn stronger and less likely to blow over, it also keeps the moisture in. This also kills the weeds. If the annual weeds are small, covering them with dirt kills them. Weeds grow so quickly and rob plants from the nutrition they need. Try to keep a weed free garden, covering them when they are small is the best way to control them. This works for all small annual weeds in the garden.

    NOTE: Don’t water corn when the wind is blowing. It will cause the roots to become soft and the corn may blow over. Especially as it grows taller, do not water it on a windy day. Sometimes during the Summer the wind comes up during the evening, so watch the weather and water when the wind is not blowing.

    Plant corn in rows about 36″ apart, corn that is planted too close won’t pollinate properly. It seems if corn is planted it too close the wind can’t get down the rows to move the pollen. Sometimes people plant three rows then skip a row. Two years ago I planted 7 rows and didn’t have a problem. The corn I plant is a yellow and white sweet corn. It isn’t too tall so maybe the corn can pollinate because the corn is kind of short. Last year I planted 17 rows. WOW !!! I didn’t have a pollination problem then either.

    This year I plan to plant 10 double rows. Lots of people plant double rows, double rows of peas, beans and other vegetables. It is the best use of garden space. A double row is two rows of seeds planted close together. Planting a double row of corn allows me to put a drip hose in between the two rows and watering is a snap!!!

    I use drip soaker hoses down each row. This does two things, it doesn’t water the weeds in between the rows and the corn gets the water directly into the hill. This hose I am talking about isn’t a regular round or flat soaker hose, it is a flat drip hose. It is made out of material, and the water just drips out of it. I can water two rows 150 feet long in about 3-5 hours.

    More about watering corn, my Mother always said if your corn is turning yellow, it is getting too much water. She also said don’t water your corn until it shows signs of stress. Stress shows in corn by curling the leaves length-wise. Outside of the leaves to the middle, not top to bottom. They begin to become narrow and pointed. When they are pointed, that is the time to water your corn.

    Try to plant your corn on the North side of your garden. Run the rows east and west. If not keep the corn away from crops that need sun. Sometimes you can plant peas next to the corn and the afternoon and evening shade actually helps the peas. I tried this year to plant peas among the corn. The peas did well, and seemed to enjoy the shade. I will do it again next year, but I will wait until the corn is about 10″ tall before I plant the peas.

    This is a cool trick I learned a few years ago and believe it or not it works !!!!! To prevent corn worms in your corn, spray a little Pam non-stick cooking spray on the silks of the cobs when they first begin to form. I guess the worms don’t like the grease, or they can’t make their way into the cob. Last year I had less than 10 worms in my corn. No kidding, this really works.

    Don’t let your corn get dry during the time it is forming the cobs. Keep watering it during this most important time. If you are going on a vacation during this time have a friend water your corn. It seems to dry out during this time because of hot temperatures, so keep your eye on your corn and the cobs !!!

    Harvesting the corn. I always check the top of the corn before I pick it. I carefully peal down the top and check the kernels to see if they are ready. I sometimes push my fingernail into one of the top kernels, if it breaks the kernel easily, it is ready. If it kind of pops the corn is probably over ripe. If the corn is too white looking it isn’t ripe yet either. If it is too yellow or golden colored with a red speck on each kernel, it is over-ripe. Sometimes all of the corn will be ripe at the same time and you can pick all of it. But it has been my experience with Serendipity corn is that it ripens over a span of two to three weeks. (Serendipity corn is yellow and white, the sweetest corn I have ever tasted).

    Each stock should have two ears on them. One will be a large ear and one a smaller ear. The thing is, both will ripen at about the same time. So don’t think the smaller ear isn’t ripe yet, or that it will grow as big as the large ear. It usually will be ready about five days later than the big ear.

    Try to pick corn when it is cool, either early morning or evening. Eat it or can it right away, corn becomes ‘old’ quickly, so either put it in the refrigerator right away or begin to can it.

    NOTE: Don’t give up on corn if it seems smaller than your ‘neighbors’. The best thing about thinning out corn and getting rid of the suckers is that the corn will start to grow faster. Weeding the garden will make the corn grow much faster. As we all know, weeds rob our vegetables of much needed nutrients. Another thing about weeds is that they grow much faster than the vegetables thus making the vegetables FIGHT for everything they get !!!

    Get excited about planting corn there is nothing better than fresh corn on the cob with the rest of a ‘home-grown meal’.

    Updated version from my ‘gardenyourlife’ blog, Monday, August 10, 2009

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