A Cornfield In Every Garden
It really is true. It’s possible to hear corn growing. Those who have stood silently inside a cornfield recall that haunting sound akin to automobile tires rubbing against a curb. That’s the stalks of corn stretching ever skyward reaching for the warmth of the sun or the gentle rain that gives birth to one of the most popular vegetable side dishes: corn on the cob. This dish receives only minimal competition from creamed corn. Yellow or maize corn has been the traditional choice of gardeners. In recent years, however, white corn, mixed yellow-and-white, and blue corn may also be grown in home gardens.
How to Grow Corn
The first thing to keep in mind about corn is that it needs plenty of space. Another thing about corn is that a single corn kernel dried for seed and planted may produce a corn plant that reproduces several ears of corn on a single stalk. Consider that a fully matured corn stalk can be up to three feet wide and five feet tall. This gives a fair evaluation of how much space a single row of corn will need in terms of garden space.
Prepare the Soil for a Corn Crop
Most gardeners use a roto-tiller to turn over the soil before planting. This helps aerate and loosen soil. The pH for soil should be 6.0 to 6.5 and have a fair amount of loam content. Corn thrives best in sandy and well-drained soils. Plant corn when the soil has warmed to at least sixty-five degrees or is warm to the touch.
Corn is simple to grow. Form corn rows and small three to four inch high ridges in each row. Plant corn seeds at least twelve inches apart. Be sure to allow for at least two to three feet between each row. Corn stalks don’t mind a little crowding. Too much crowding can compromise growth. Corn needs ample amounts of rain and watering to keep young stalks from drying. For example, corn should have one inch of rain or water each week. It’s also important to insure that all weeds and roots don’t take over the cornfield.
In about three and a half weeks, corn is ready to be harvested. This depends on the variety of corn planted. The way to check ripeness is to take notice of the appearance of corn silks at the top of the ear of corn. When silks become dry, corn kernels should be mature and milky. Not all of the ears of corn on a single stalk may be ripened at the same time.
Corn stalks are preyed upon by aphids, beetles and corn worms. Fortunately, corn is naturally disease-resistant. Take the precaution of checking corn seeds to insure they have been pre-treated.
When harvest time is done, allow corn stalks and several ears to dry completely. These can be used as autumn decorations. Then, recycle them as compost to add to the soil next season.