Learn the joy of growing your very own crop of Sweetcorn! This deliciously sweet Vegetable is not only fun to grow but easy too! Read my simple instructions for a successful sunny Harvest!
Some Sweetcorn History
The First crop of Sweetcorn was recorded in 1779 and was grown by the Native American Tribe Iroquois, they called it ‘Papoon’. European settlers collected some of the tribally grown corn and so began the popularity of this sunny vegetable!
Is it a Vegetable?
There is the argument, that since corn originates from a grass plant, it is sometimes considered more of a grain stock than a vegetable. This also gives some explanation as to why corn has more Calories and Carbohydrates than other ‘vegetables’. Whatever you want to call it…Grain or Vegetable, we can all agree on one thing, it’s delicious!
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When was Sweetcorn first grown in UK?
Sweetcorn’s popularity was nurtured first by America. Us Brits were a little late to the party! It wasn’t until the 1970’s that British Farmers and Supermarkets began to catch on. Now there is over 2500 hectares of British Farmland dedicated to the growth of Sweetcorn every year.
Why is Sweetcorn Good For You
- One of the main nutritional benefits of Sweetcorn is its fibre content. Including Fibre in your diet is a must! It helps you stay fuller for longer, Aids digestion and can even help lower your risk of heart disease, strokes and Diabetes
- Sweetcorn is also a wonderful food for expectant mothers! Sweetcorn is rich in Vitamin B9, also known as Folate. Folate contributes to the creation of healthy red blood cells, which are essential to the baby’s development in the womb.
- Fabulous for the Nervous System! Sweetcorn is rich in Vitamin B19 (Thiamine). Thiamine helps to break down our food and turn it into energy as well as keeping our Nervous System Healthy.
- Helps maintain a healthy Immune system. Corn has buckets of Vitamin C a known supporter of the Immune system. Vitamin C is also wonderful for combating fatigue, supporting Iron Absorption and can even stimulate Collagen!
- Sweetcorn is rich in Magnesium. Magnesium is essential in the wellbeing of our muscles and bones. It helps metabolise food into energy and helps reduce fatigue.
Varieties of Sweet Corn
There are many Varieties of Sweetcorn! Here are a few I recommend…
How To Grow Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn is most successful in hot summers, fingers crossed for a good one this year!
- Sow sweetcorn seeds from Mid April- Mid May. I like to sow 1 or 2 seeds, around 1 inch deep in deep modules.
- Place on a Sunny Windowsill. Cover with a propagator lid or Cling wrap, remove when the seedlings appear. Germination should occur within 10-12 days
- Plant out when the risk of frost has passed. Be sure to harden off young plants first
What is Hardening Off ?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
- Sow outdoors in late spring, in the ground or in pots, once all risk of frost has passed, choose a sunny location.
- Sweetcorn is wind pollinated, and so, plants should be grown in blocks (like a grid) rather than rows. Sow two to three seeds per hole, then thin out to 1 , keeping only the strongest.
Where to Grow Sweetcorn
- Grow sweetcorn in a sheltered, sunny position
- Sweetcorn prefers moist and well fertilised soil, digging in some compost, or raking in a good quality fertilizer like this liquid Seaweed can help give the plants a boost
Sweetcorn Water Requirements
Water Sweetcorn plants frequently when they are young, this is essential in order for the plant to establish a strong root system. When the plant has matured, water during periods of dry weather and let the British Weather take care of the rest * A good practice is to mulch the base of Sweetcorn plants to maintain a good level of moisture.
Can You Grow Sweetcorn in Pots?
Absolutely! In fact they grow very well in pots, just make sure you provide a container large enough-Potato sacks are a good solution for this-nice and deep, plenty of room for the roots.
Do You Have to Stake Sweetcorn Plants ?
I never do, Sweetcorn Plants are pretty sturdy and rely on the support of each other when planted in blocks. But if you are fearful of high winds it wont do any harm, just place a bamboo stake beside the plant and tie in with twine
Sweetcorn Plant Pollination
Sweetcorn is reliant on wind pollination. How does it Work? It’s very simple…A Corn plant has both male (tassels) and female (silks) flowers. Pollen from the tassels at the top of the plant need to land on the silks below in order for pollination to occur and a good crop to follow. The Wind is the catalyst for this process (gentle movement of the tassles, created by the wind, causes the pollen to fall and land on the tassels)
Can You Pollinate Sweetcorn Plants by hand ?
Don’t want to rely on Nature? Ok, hand pollination is a simple process to guarantee a Sweetcorn Crop, here’s how you do it…
Hand pollinate by snipping off a tassel and brushing it on the silks (hair like part) so the pollen makes good contact. One tassel can pollinate several ears of corn this way.
*Top Tip for Rainbow Corn, hand Pollination -If you are growing multi- coloured, Rainbow Type Corn, it is best to use several different tassels and brush them on the silks to ensure a good mix of colors on each Corn cob.
When To Harvest Sweetcorn
Each sweetcorn plant can yield as little as 1 cob to as many as 4. Corn Cobs are ready for harvest once the tassels growing at the end of the cob turn brown. To be certain, press down with your thumb on the Kernels, if they exude a milky liquid, their ready. To Harvest, give the cobs a sharp twist to remove from the plant.
How to store sweetcorn
For long term storage I like to blanch cobs in boiling water for a few minutes, drain them, pop them in a freezer bag and freeze.
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