Gardening
Sweet Corn
By: Jonathan Sturm

Sweet corn needs lots of heat and compost to grow well. The seed is sown in spring 25-50 mm deep, in rows 1000 mm apart with 300 mm between plants. Pollination is better if they are sown in blocks rather than long rows. Pollination is also improved by shaking the plants when the pollen has formed on the male spike at the top. Poor pollination leads to gaps in the rows of seed on the mature cob. Some varieties of corn that are extra sweet will lose their extra sweetness if they are pollinated by another variety. Sow corn at frequent intervals during the sowing season for your area, to avoid a glut. Sweet corn rapidly deteriorates in flavour after picking and ideally should be cooked within minutes of harvest. If you have never tasted truly fresh sweet corn, you are in for a surprise.

Sweet corn can be mulched heavily or the soil in the rows cultivated and gradually hilled up around the plants for support. As the sweet corn nears maturity, the tassels on the cobs begin to dry off. To test the readiness of the cob for picking, expose the kernels and prick one. If it exudes a milky juice, it is ready. Over mature kernels will feel tough and no juice will flow. Immature cobs will exude a clear juice. Harvest the cobs by pulling them in a downward motion.

Sweet corn is susceptible to infestation by grubs in the top of the cobs. This can be overcome by the application of a couple of drops of mineral oil to the tassels. Some books advise the removal of the small suckers that arise from the base of the plant. Unless you are an obsessively tidy person, there is nothing achieved by the practise.

Companion planting of corn, beans and squash was a common practice of the North American Indian. The beans climb the corn and the squash acted as a living mulch over the ground.

VarietiesComments
Rosella93 days to maturity. Processing variety.
Miracle75 days. Earliest maturing. Performs well under poor early season conditions.
Honeysweet86 days. Short plants. Excellent flavour. Stores better than most.
Silvan O.P.Tall, late maturing. Not as sweet as hybrids.
Silver Gem105 days. Tasty, white seeded.
Golden Cross BantamExcellent flavour. Smaller seeds than most.
Honey and Cream100 days. Very sweet. Two colour seeds.
Sweet Miracle80 days. Higher sugar content than most.
Golden Champion100 days. Tall, rust resistant. High yields.
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