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“You really get the most out of sweet corn if you pick the corn off the stalk and rush it to a pot of boiling water. The longer you wait, the more sugar you lose. But if you get it in the first half hour, that is the sweetest corn ever.” – Sam Donaldson
Growing Corn: an activity for children of all ages. If you’ve ever had fresh sweet corn right out of the garden, you know the benefits of growing your own sweet corn. Growing corn is simple and fun. In this activity, children will learn the basics of growing their own corn.
- Corn needs well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Ideally, corn should be planted in soil that has had manure or compost previously added. Alternatively, you can add aged compost to your soil or top dress with a thin layer of composted manure or coffee grounds.
- If not in place, set up a consistent watering system. Corn develops best in soil that is moist but not wet. Corn that dries out too much will not develop the best kernels. A soaker hose or drip line on a timer is an excellent way to water corn. It keeps the soil moist without splashing dirt up onto the cornstalks which can cause root rot. Hand watering is fine as long as it is done consistently and with minimal splashing.
- Soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to speed up the germination process.
- If planting corn in a container, choose a pot that is at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide with drainage holes in the bottom. You can grow up to four dwarf corn plants in a container this size.
- If planting in the ground, plant seeds 1 inch deep in rows in the spring, two weeks after the last frost or when the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees (Fahrenheit). You can also plant in a big circle or square. Corn is wind pollinated so make sure you plant at least four rows to allow pollen from the tassels on top of the corn stalk to reach the silk on each ear. Some people will aid this process manually by pulling off a handful of pollen from the top and placing it on the silk.
- For alternative growing patterns and techniques, check out the following Pinterest board. Below the board is a helpful video on growing corn in your garden.
- Plant in succession every two weeks to spread out your corn harvest over more time. Corn grows about two ears per stalk so plan how much to plant according to your harvest needs.
- Thin plants so they are 18 inches apart (this gives them room to grow, allows air movement, and prevents disease).
- Mulch around the corn to keep the soil moist and the weeds under control.
- Consider planting beans and squash around your corn to make a “three sisters garden.”
- Harvest your corn when the silk on the ears turns brown. Make sure to pull back the leaves on one ear to check if it is really ripe before harvesting all the ears. Below is a video detailing how to make sure your corn is ready to pick.
- Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.
- Have fun!