Growing Sweet Corn and how you know when to harvest.

August 24, 2008
Sweet corn 'Butterscotch' best eaten just after it's picked
Sweet corn ‘Butterscotch F1’

Plant your sweet corn 2cm deep, in a frost-fee, well drained, fertile soil and sunny position in your allotment or garden. Ideally the pH should be around 6.0 – 6.5

I first soaked the dried corn seeds over night to allow them to absorb water. Then kept the corn in damp kitchen paper for a few days to see which were viable then selected the ones that had started to germinate.

Ideally your plants needs at least eight hours of sunlight a day.
To germinate the soil temperature should be about 60 degrees. You can start planting in pots in the greenhouse then transplanting the seedlings when the soil is warm enough.

Don’t mix up different varieties together as you’ll get cross pollination. Plant the same variety of corn in a block 30cm apart and rows about 60cm apart. The plants need to be close enough together to ensure wind pollination and to ensure they fertilise each other to produce corn on the cob.

Water well throughout the growing season and don’t let the sol dry out.
If our British weather ever gets too hot, water more frequently. The sweet corn will not grow well if it becomes to dry for long periods.

Milkly liquid indicates when the sweet corn is ripe

Milky liquid indicates when the sweet corn is ripe

The time to harvest your sweet corn is when the ‘silks’ are brown and dry and you can pierce the kernels with a finger nail. If the liquid is clear it’s not quite ripe. When you get a milky liquid then it’s the time to pick your corn on the cob by twisting the ears of corn which should snap off the main stem.
Sweet corn just picked

Peel the husks off before boiling your corn on the cob.

The best time to harvest your corn is in the cooler hours of the morning.  Store them in cool temperatures, the cooler the better.

You will get the sweetest flavour if you eat your sweet corn on the cob as soon as possible. BBC prestenter Carol Klein suggests even taking a pan of boiling water to the plant and popping the cob in to the boiling water within seconds.
Boil for 6 minutes. Spread butter and a bit of salt to your taste. Delicious

The variety photographed is Butterscotch F1

Sweet corn mouse damage

Sweet corn mouse damage

Pests: Mice will eat your sweet corn as soon as they are ripe.

Photography Neil Bromhall. This blog is an extension to the Complete gardens planting advice CD-ROM