Today’s article comes to us from Jeff who lives just outside of Evansville, Indiana, and it’s all about growing sweet corn!
We absolutely loved Jeff’s story about growing up in a garden-crazy neighborhood, and how he is now carrying on the traditions of a home garden like his parents and grandparents did. we especially love that he still has and uses his grandfather’s hoe!
It seems as each week goes by, we continue to learn more and more from gardeners just like Jeff.
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Now, let’s get to Jeff and how he grows his sweet corn!
My Secrets To Growing Sweet Corn
Jeff – Evansville, Indiana
Growing Zone 6
To me, there is nothing quite like growing your own sweet corn. The sweetness of biting into a just-picked ear of corn is something that takes me back to my childhood.
I grew up with a family of gardeners. My parents gardened, and both of their grandparents gardened as well. I think every neighbor had a garden as well from what I can remember. There was always a big competition every single year to see who could grow the most and the biggest. They are fond memories that I relive now with my own garden.
One thing my dad and grandfather always loved growing and eating was sweet corn. Nothing can beat the taste of an ear that was just picked. My grandfather and dad wouldn’t even wait sometimes until it was boiled, eating it right off the stalk to enjoy it. I, however, still like mine boiled. We plant the same way they did, and it has always worked really well. Here is how we plant:
Plant In Blocks
Corn needs to be pollinated, and the best way to make sure it happens is to plant it in blocks. When growing our corn, we plants in 6 x 6 blocks. There are 6 rows that are each 10 to 15 feet long, and they are 6 rows wide. I think the biggest mistake people make is to just plant a single long row, or just a double row. My dad always told me it should be at least 4 rows wide, and my 6 row system seems to really work for us.
Cow Manure – Our Big Secret
So, our biggest secret is aged cow manure! It works wonder in replenishing the soil for what corn takes out of it. My family has been using it for years as our corn fertilizer and it hasn’t failed us yet.
Corn is a heavy feeder, and so the soil needs to be replenished each season. We also rotate our corn blocks in our garden to not try to grow it in the same spot for a few years.
Early in the Spring, we till in old cow manure that we get from a farmer down the road. Farmers are usually more than happy to give it to you if you are willing to get it.
It is not as bad as it sounds, aged cow manure is always dry and loads easily. We use big metal trash cans and fill them up and then till it into the rows in the early spring.
When the corn gets about two feet high, I go back and get a little bit more of the dry old manure and put a bit more on top of the soil in the rows by each plant. This helps to give a little more fertilizer as it rains and breaks down. It may sound crazy – but cow manure is where it’s at for corn!
When we plant our rows, we seed a little more than we need. Corn seed needs to be directly planted in the ground. It does not transplant like other vegetable plants. We sow our seed about two weeks after the last frost. We plant a seed about every 4 inches and then thin them to every 8 once they come up.
We plant our seeds in a 1 inch trench we dig in the ground with my grandfathers hoe. It is amazing to still use something so old to carry on the tradition.
Don’t Harvest Till You Need It
One final tip for sweet corn, try to harvest only what you need when you need it. We plant our sweet corn blocks so a few weeks apart. That way we get to enjoy it longer.
The second you take corn off the stalk, it starts to lose sugar and flavor. The same goes for when we can and freeze. We try to pick the morning we are going to can and freeze to get that incredible flavor.
I hope you enjoyed my tips, and good luck growing sweet corn! – Jeff
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