How to grow corn

How to grow corn: from seed to cob, from sowing to steaming

Hot, steamed, corn-on-the-cob. What a delicious summer treat, a gift your vegetable garden offers as the perfect side-dish for barbeques, Sunday dinners or even a quick backyard lunch.

Growing sweet corn is not difficult at all, though it will take some extra care in certain climates. From sowing the seeds in individual seeding pots, through transplanting and watching (sometimes even listening!) to it grow, this popular plant not only treats you with its fruits, but also decorates any corner of your vegetable garden.


Step 1

Soak seed / prepare pots

Put the corn seed to soak in fresh water overnight. Fill the seeding pots halfway with potting soil and set in the plastic containers. Put an inch of water in the bottom of the plastic container.

How to grow corn
Step 2

Sow seeds in seeding pots

The next day, place two corn seeds in each seeding pot near the edges. Top off the pots with potting soil. Water the pots and keep them humid either by spraying them with water daily or keeping a bit of water in the bottom of the container. Set them in the sun.

Step 3

Wait a week and keep it moist

After about a week, the corn will have sprouted. Keep it moist and in the sun. Cover it if there is frost at night.

Step 4

Separate plants for transplanting

When the plants are about three fingers high they are ready to transplant. Remove the newspaper and separate the plants.

Step 5

Punch holes in the plot

With a wooden pole (like a broomstick) punch holes in the garden where you want the corn patch. The holes should be about two fingers deep and an open palm apart. Make sure you have at least two rows (ideal is four).

Step 6

Transplant the seedlings

Drop the plants into the holes and press the surrounding soil around the plant to fix them. Water copiously without wetting the plants.

Step 7

Watch it grow

Watch the corn grow (sometimes you can even hear it grow). If the leaves curl up, water; otherwise water regularly.

Step 8

Pollinate by hand

When the cobs form and put out silky hairs and the tassel has produced pollen, make sure to agitate the plans so that pollen falls on the silk. Do this four or five days in a row.

Step 9

Control maturity

Watch the silks. They will get darker as the kernels develop. The cobs will get fatter.

Step 10

Check and pick

When the silks are nearly golden brown and dried, open the husk a bit and pinch a kernel. If a milky white sap oozes out, the cob is ready to pick. Bend it downwards and twist slightly to remove it from the stalk. Pick the corn minutes before you are going to steam or boil or roast it.

Step 11

Husk and heat

Husk the cob and remove as many silks as you can. Put it to steam or boil, about three minutes or wrap it in foil and put it on hot coals, turning every half-minute for three or four minutes.

Step 12

Season and eat

Roll the hot cob of corn on a stick of butter or margarine or dribble some olive oil over the cob. Salt and pepper to taste and sink your teeth in! Mmm mmm!

Step 13

Clean up

The cob itself will not have cooked, so it’s safe to put it in the compost pile. Have toothpicks ready to clean between your teeth and napkins for mouths and fingers.

Things Needed
• Newspaper seeding pots (see How to guide)
• Potting soil
• Plastic containers
• Corn seed
• Water
• Broomstick
• Garden space (1 square yard minimum)

Tips & Warnings
• Don’t soak the corn more than 12 hours, it may rot
• A rectangle with several short rows is better than a longer row; the corn will pollinate more completely.
• Watch for insect and moldy pests and deal with them at once!
• Watch for curled leaves, your corn wants more water.


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