Sweet Corn Gardening Tips
Where and When to Plant:
Plant your corn in full sun and well after any risk of frost. Your corn should receive at least eight hours of sunlight a day. Soil temperatures should be about 60 degrees F for proper germination, and slightly higher for the supersweet varieties. Generally, May and June are good months to plant. You can check your soil temperature with an electronic soil tester if you have any doubts. If you want an early start on your corn, you can consider covering your soil with a plastic mulch, such as clear or black polyethylene, to help warm the soil and promote germination.
When you’re looking for a place to plant your corn, you should keep in mind that it’s important to separate different corn varieties as they may cross pollinate. Additionally, keep an eye out for other people in your area who are growing corn. Corn is pollinated by the wind and can easily be contaminated by other corn crops. About 300 meters distance between different corn crops is recommended.
Soil and Spacing Tips:
Plant your seeds in well-draining soils. The kernels may rot if the soil doesn’t dry well and they stay too wet. Test your soil pH with a soil pH tester. It should be around 6.0 to 6.5. You can add limestone to raise the pH if it is low. Add the powdered limestone during fall so that your soil will be ready by next growing season.
Of course, it is always a good idea to add organic compost to your soil. This will balance out drainage and other factors like pH. If you don’t know how, you can check out the Composting Guide site. Also, consider purchasing a high quality composting bin for your home to improve the quality of your compost.
Plant your seeds approximately one inch deep and space them about a foot apart in each row. If you have sandy soil, you can plant your seeds a little deeper. Planting your corn in groups of four rows works well to stimulate pollination. 32 inches between rows is a good standard distance.
Watering and Maintenance Tips:
Sweet corn requires frequent watering to produce full, healthy ears. Once the tassels appear, you should be watering at least one inch of water per week. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out between waterings. If your area is experiencing particularly hot and dry weather, make sure to compensate and water more frequently. Corn will not do well when exposed to prolonged drought.
You should cultivate around the corn to remove weeds. Weeds can become a nightmare for home gardeners growing corn, so weed frequently. If you’re growing a fairly large crop, you should consider a handheld electric cultivator which will greatly reduce the work involved in cultivating. Weeds and debris also attract pests so remove litter when you can. It’s not recommended to cut out the suckers around your corn as these suckers have nothing to do with yields or quality.
Soil solarization is another technique that can also help to reduce problems with weeds. See this site from Seminole County in Florida for more information. Additionally, burning off weeds with propane torches is another way to deal with weeds without harmful chemical herbicides.