Thursday, March 4, 2010

Growing Sweet Corn

Just picked sweet corn is my high energy snack food (350kcal per 100g)

I grew a small plot of corn this summer and I have been picking cobs for the past couple of weeks. As a crop it requires lots of water and rich fertile soil to grow well. For soil preparation I had dug in a generous amount of compost as potatoes had grown there previously. Ideally it is a legume such as broad beans or peas which should precede corn as they add a bit of extra nitrogen to the soil. Corn is just a giant grass after all. I didn't take much notice of the variety I planted as I had a jar of seed saved from years ago and despite their dubious viability, all seemed to germinate well. It was probably a hybrid 'super-sweet' type. Apparently hybrid corn retains its sugar level for longer before converting it to starch which means you don't have to pick the whole lot at once. Non hybrid corn turns its sugar to starch quickly and this can happen within hours of picking. Wait too long and the crop is tasteless.It is often recommended to plant a crop of beans to climb up the corn plants but I didn't get around to doing this but I was blessed with a mass of coriander seedlings which came up amongst the emerging corn plants. There are no serious pests of corn so it is easy to grow organically. Aphids collect under the husk of the corn cobs and you notice these as tiny black smudge like insects when you peel the cobs but they don't seem to do much damage. Caterpillars will burrow into the top of the ear and often eat the silk and top row of kernels but as this often happens close to harvest time, they are not worth spraying for.

Young corn and coriander
Male flower plumes or tassels are quite decorative
Female flowers with silky styles forming 'ears'or corn cobs

First prize corn at a recent Agricultural show


  1. I love sweet corn, but unfortunately the marauding parakeets love them too. So I end up buying them.

  2. I say, yours look better! We grow sweetcorn. Generally we grow pretty good sweetcorn but the last batch was no good at all and it went to the Angelinas. I think it was too dry, as the corn looked shrivelled when we harvested it.