The Complete Gardener's Guide ,
Fresh Sweet Corn Sweeter Straight from Filed

Materials Needed

  • sweet corn seeds of choice
  • well-drained soil
  • quick-growing catch cropseeds (optional)

Step 1: Sow Seed in Spring

Sweet corn requires a hot season to produce a good crop, so plant in a sheltered, sunny site with well-drained soil. In colder areas, sow seed in the spring under cover in a heated propagator, set to a minimum temperature of 61–70 degrees F. To encourage good pollination, plant sweet corn in blocks, 18 inches apart, so the pollen can be blown by the wind from plant to plant. Baby corn can be planted more closely, 6 inches apart. Grow the seedlings at room temperature, and harden them off once the risk of frost has passed.

Step 2: Co-Plant With Other Crops

Sweet corn is slow to develop, and young plants cast only light shade. Take advantage of the space below them as they develop, and underplant with a quick-growing catch crop, such as beets, radishes or kohlrabi.

Step 3: Test the Cobs

Leave late-season cobs to ripen as long as possible before the first frost. Check to see if cobs are ready by exposing the cob and pressing a fingernail into a kernel. If it exudes milky sap, it is ready to harvest. The minute a cob is picked, the sugar in the kernels starts turning to starch, reducing its tenderness and sweetness.

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