Grow Your Own Sweetcorn in the Summer

Choose one of the many varieties of sweetcorn to best suit your garden’s needs.

| October 2014

Made at Home Vegetables, by Dick Strawbridge and James Strawbridge (Mitchell Beazley, 2012), proves just how productively green you can be all year round. Whether you have a tiny urban plot, a terrace, a community garden allotment or plenty of space in your own garden, growing your own vegetables is one of the easiest ways to transform the way you eat. The following excerpt from the chapter "Summer" teaches you how to grow and harvest sweetcorn.

Purchase this book from the GRIT store: Made at Home Vegetables.

It wasn’t that long ago that we started growing our own sweetcorn and we didn’t succeed straight away, but eventually we learnt how to get good results and a proper home-grown crop. There are a lot of varieties available, so do a little research and choose the one that will best suit your garden. Sweetcorn is categorized by its sweetness, the time of year it will mature (early, mid season or late) and its colour (it can be white, yellow, or a mixture of the two).

In mid to late spring, sow kernels into small pots or module trays at a depth of 2.5 cm (1 inch). If you are using a larger pot, sow a couple of seeds in each pot and thin the seedlings out later when one has established itself as stronger.

Protect the seedlings from frost and harden the seedlings off gradually. Transplant them when they are 10-15cm (4-6 inches) tall. Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated and needs to be planted in blocks rather than rows. Leave 45cm (18 inches) between plants and position them in a cross formation. Sweetcorn needs a sunny position, sheltered from strong winds. If your garden is very windy, use stakes to support the plants. When the sweetcorn is in flower make sure to give it extra watering.

To improve your chances of getting full cobs of sweetcorn with plenty of ripe kernels inside, tap the tassels that sprout out of the top of the cobs. This will help the plants to pollinate successfully.

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