Growing Sweet Corn

Jun 13, 2011 at 7:35 p.m. ET

Fresh sweet corn is a vegetable treat that can be grown from early summer through fall just about anywhere in the country. Several plants are necessary to ensure pollination, but the yield will never go to waste because corn is easy to preserve.


Fresh sweet corn is a vegetable treat that can be grown from early summer through fall just about anywhere in the country. Several plants are necessary to ensure pollination, but the yield will never go to waste because corn is easy to preserve.

Corn must be planted in blocks since the plants need to cross-pollinate to produce edible ears. Ideally, you'll want to dedicate a 10-foot by 10-foot section of the garden to corn. If your garden is smaller, two or three short rows can still work. Corn has male and female flowers on the same plant, but they are in different locations, so bees and/or wind needs to move the pollen from the male tassels (located at the top of the plant) to the female silks (located in junctions throughout the stalk.) If all silks are not pollinated, the earns of corn will end up with missing kernels.

Corn thrives in very rich soil. Before planting, prepare the soil with compost, bonemeal, phosphorous and manure. Plant in mid-spring through summer when soil temperatures are between 60 to 90 F. Seeds should be placed two inches apart, one inch deep. Thin the stalks to about 12 inches apart. Rows should be 24 to 36 inches apart. Consider planting on the west side of the garden so the tall stalks can provide shade for other plants. If you are planting more than one corn variety, keep them 100 feet apart to prevent hybridization

Several corn varieties mature in 75 to 80 days. Fertilize about two months after planting, and keep the plants evenly watered. Sweet corn ears will be ready to harvest about 3 weeks after silks form.

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