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How to Grow Sweet Corn
Growing corn on the cob; Sweet or Sugar Corn is one of the most delicately flavored of vegetables, and in America, one of the most largely used. As a nutritive vegetable food, corn has few equals, and no superiors. It is one of the few fresh vegetables containing any considerable amount of fat. Its total content of carbohydrates (elements which the body can transform into fat) is second only to that of potatoes. Pound for pound, it contains a third more food value than whole milk, so that its use on the table is as much an evidence of wisdom as of good taste. Corn is a tender annual and a member of the grass family that can grow from 4 to 12 feet (1.2-3.6m) tall. It’s straight forward growing corn at home, sweet Corn can be easily grown in containers but is best suited to a larger outside space where several rows should be planted each year in the Home Garden.
Situation and Soil Preparation
Corn does not have a very deep root system, so be sure to plant in a spot that’s in full sun yet sheltered from the wind. A good blast of wind can flatten a corn plant.
The secret of growing good Sweet Corn is deep, rich soil, plenty of manure, frequent cultivation and an abundance of water. The ground must be thoroughly well trenched, and manure properly incorporated therein. The best fertilizer for sweet corn is well rotted manure and a dressing of lime some weeks previously is also valuable. A good method of sowing the seed is to make a ”V” shaped trench about 5 or 6 inches in depth, place a little Lime in the bottom of the trench, cover with 2 inches of earth, plant the seed, cover with or tread to thoroughly firm the soil.
Planting sweet corn
Sweet corn does not germinate well in cold soil and in low temperatures wont thrive. Sweet corn seeds can appear hard,shrunken and shriveled; before they can germinate, they must slowly swell with water, so soak dry seeds in water at room temperature overnight before planting.
As Sweet Corn requires plenty, of room for its development, do not plant too close. Sow the seed in rows 36 inches apart and thin out the plants from 12 to 15 inches apart in the rows. To have a succession of cobs, two sowings should be made during each of the sowing months, and if desired, a late sowing may be made. This latter sowing, however, is a gamble with the weather and it is quite likely frosts will come in and cut down the Corn before it is fully matured.
Growing corn from seed
To secure an early crop of Sweet Corn, sow the seed in biodegradable seed boxes or pots kept in a warm situation in the house. As the weather warms up, harden the plants off so that they are ready for setting out in their permanent positions, soon as the seed can be sown in the open ground, thus effecting a saving of 4 or 5 weeks in picking the first crop of cobs. Do not attempt to disturb the plants when putting out in the garden, but just cut away the bottom of the pots and sink the frame work with the plant intact in the ground. To prevent misses, sow three or four seeds to each box, because the average germination rate for sweet corn is about 75 percent and when the plants are fairly well up, select the strongest and throw away the remainder.
Sweet corn spacing
Sow Sweet Corn about 1 inch deep for early sowing, but later in the season, plant about 1 1/2 inches below the surface. Place the pots out in rows 36 inches apart and allow from 12 to 15 inches between the plants.
General care of Sweet Corn
As soon as the seedlings appear above the ground, cultivate between the rows and between the plants to keep down the weeds and to conserve the soil moisture. When the plants are about one foot high draw the earth up round the stems. The application of Liquid Cow Manure is of value when the crop is up and growing, but if the soil is properly prepared in the first place, may be withheld till just as the plants are about to flower. Regular and frequent cultivation is essential, and must be continued right up to the time that the cobs are ready for picking.
Harvesting sweet corn
Corn requires from 60 to 100 days to reach harvest depending on the variety and warm weather. The cobs are ready for picking when the kernels are plump, well filled, and fully grown but before they have begun to harden in ripening. This stage is known as ”in the milk,” that is when the kernels, if punctured, yield a milky juice. A little experience will soon obviate any difficulty in judging the fitness of the cob for picking.
In external appearance the silk on the cob should be brown and somewhat dry and the ear should feel firm and well filled. Strip back the sheath surrounding the cob and if, after testing, the corn is found to be immature, replace and tie at the top in order to keep out ants. The kernels may be tested by puncturing with the thumb nail.
If the milk spurts, pick at once, but should the grains remain concave after this test, the corn is too ripe and these over matured cobs should be allowed to go to seed or fed to poultry. As Sweet Corn deteriorates quickly, cook the cobs as soon as possible after picking, and never longer than 24 hours after being gathered.
RECIPE FOR COOKING
Sweet Corn is a really delicious vegetable, and is not sufficiently appreciated for the reason that even when well grown and picked at the right time, few know how to cook it properly. To prepare Sweet Corn for cooking, remove all the husk and every particle of silk. Cut off the stalks close to the cob both for appearance and to save room in the saucepan. Place the Cobs in boiling water and allow to boil for 20 minutes. Carefully remove with a skimmer and serve immediately. The best way to manipulate Sweet Corn is to take the Cobs in the fingers, adding pepper and salt to taste, and using plenty of butter. This is the general method of using Corn, but the following recipe will also be of interest:
This is a splendid method of utilising cobs that are too old for boiling. Grate the corn from twelve raw ears, using a bread grater. Into the grated corn, stir two tablespoonfuls of flour, one beaten egg, one teaspoonful of salt and a little pepper. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls into a hot, well greased frying pan, and fry like pancakes. Serve hot and eat with butter and additional salt to taste.
Sweet Corn Varieties
The best of all the varieties is Golden Bantam, which is of delicious flavor. White Evergreen is a useful sort as it yields fine cobs and will stand longer without deterioration than the other sorts. Country Gentleman and Early Fordhook are the best of the other varieties.