Planting Corn

Planting Corn
by Gerald Butler

If you can make room for it, sweet corn is the supreme home-grown vegetable simply because growing it yourself is the only way to get corn fresh enough to have full flavor. It loses much of its sweetness within minutes after picking. Most gardeners grow hybrid varieties, which are more vigorous, produce higher yields and have greater disease resistance than standard varieties-but one standard variety, Golden Bantam, is so sweet that it is used as the flavor yardstick by which other sweet corn is measured.

During the summer, when there is less moisture near the surface of the soil, sow the seeds about 2 inches deep. When planting corn in rows, sow the seeds 3 to 4 inches apart.

Space rows of early corn 2 feet apart; space rows of the taller-growing midseason and late varieties about 3 feet apart. When the plants are 2 to 4 inches tall, cut off all but the strongest ones for a final spacing of about 12 inches. When planting hills of corn, group six seeds in a spot, setting each group 2 feet apart in both directions. When the plants are 2 to 4 inches tall, cut off all but the three strongest plants in each hill. Some gardeners follow the Indian custom of planting a few pumpkins and winter squashes 10 feet apart among their corn.

Plant Stuff

Fertilize the plants when they are 2 to 4 inches tall and again when they are 8 to 10 inches tall, scattering a 6-inch band of 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 5 to 8 ounces of fertilizer for every 10 feet of row. Water the plants whenever they show any signs of wilting, and keep the soil moist when the tassels appear because this is the time when the ears are forming. Pull weeds when they become 2 inches tall; otherwise, cultivate the soil no deeper than 1 inch corn roots are very shallow and are easily injured.

Cucumbers grow best in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. In most of the U.S. and southern Canada, where frost is expected in winter, sow seeds indoors in peat pots about three weeks before night temperatures can be depended upon to stay above 55. Set two seeds 1/2 inch deep in each pot.

When the seedlings are 11/2 inches tall, cut off the weaker of the two. After all danger of frost is past, set the seedlings, pots and all, into the garden. Seeds may also be sown directly outdoors when all danger of frost is past. In frost-free areas, sow seeds outdoors in fall for harvesting in winter and spring.

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