Corn is one of those crops that are especially fun to grow. They are pretty easy to grow in the home garden once we take into a count a few things:
- Plant them close together. Because pollination happens by wind and gravity, planting them close together increases the chance of the corn being pollinated. One mistake most first time corn growers (yours truly included) make is planting them too far apart and in a single row. Rather than have one long row of corn, it is best to have them in rows of two or more. In the video below, the corn were planted in clusters of two; with each plant about 4 inches apart. Each cluster was then spaced about a foot part in two rows.
- Give them all you got. Corn need a lot of energy and water to produce a filled out ear. Give them your best planting soil and the spot with the most amount of sun.
- Water. Water. Water. Provide corn plants with lots of water. Especially when the ears are developing. After all, most of the kernel is made of water.
- Start before the bugs start. Sow/plant corn as early in the year as possible. In southern California Zone 10b, many of the heat loving corn varieties can be directly sowed as early as March. I have found that the longer I wait, the greater the chance that I will find corn earworm in the corn. In fact, I found an earworm in one of the ears. The earworm was about 3 mm long (a real baby). By starting early, we are able to get a jump on the earworm life cycle and get the corn before it does.
- Get them suckers! When the corn is about a foot tall, they will start to grow suckers at the base of the plant. What I like to do is to rip those off since I do not heavily fertilize the soil. Suckering corn seems to be a debated topic. Growers have reported equal success with leaving the suckers on the plant. What has been your experience? Do you regularly fertilize your corn?