The fresh sweetness of corn in mid summer is a seasonal treat and it doesn’t come any sweeter than when corn is cooked moments after being picked from your very own garden. Sweetcorn is fun for kids to sow and plant thanks to its speedy development – you can almost watch it as it grows. It also benefits many other plants in the garden as a climbing frame and shade provider.
Beans, squashes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, dahlias, cosmos, sunflowers.
Sow August to November.
Sweetcorn likes a warm place in the sun, with shelter from strong prevailing winds. It grows to around 1.8 metres in height, so find a spot where it won’t put any sun-loving neighbours in the shade.
Sweetcorn likes a well-drained, deep soil with a store of rich nutrients dug through it. To further improve drainage for your corn crop, you can mound soil up to make a raised and better draining planting position.
Take your seeds and put them in a glass of water to soak overnight before you plant – this will improve germination. Generally, it is a good idea to plant two seeds per pot and then select the stronger of the two when they have developed a pair of leaves (just pinch out the weaker one at soil level). Seeds are best planted into a small pot (around 10cm in height) of seed compost and placed onto a windowsill
The trick with sweetcorn is plant in sufficient numbers and to plant in blocks rather than single rows. This is done so that plants are surrounded by one another to ensure adequate pollination – which happens when wind blows pollen from plant to plant. Just make a hole as deep as your pot and pop the seedling in before back-filling and gently firming the soil around it. Water well.
Keep well watered if dry. When seedlings come about halfway up your shins earth them up by pushing soil up around the base to about a third their height. This helps them withstand any windy weather. Feed every two weeks with a ready-made liquid feed such as liquid seaweed. The male flowers will develop and open at the top of the plants with the female flowers growing off the stems in tow or three places on the main stem.
Sweetcorn can be attacked by caterpillars. If you see any remove by hand.
Some years the harvest can start earlier than others – delays can come from colder springs causing an early lack of pollinating bees.
The cobs should start to swell quickly and they are ready to be pulled from the plant by pushing them downwards about a week or so after the silks have turned brown. Sweetcorn is sweetest when freshly harvested because the sugars it contains start to convert to starch once it has been picked.
A prepared pizza base
1/2 cup dried tomato pesto or basil pesto
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup of fresh corn kernels
1/2 a cup of chopped green sweet pepper
250g fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
250g crumbled feta cheese
Line a very large baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place your prepared pizza base onto the foil sheet. Bake in a 220 degrees oven for 5 minutes. Remove the bases from the oven.
Spread the tomato pesto over the pizza base. Arrange the artichoke hearts, corn and pepper on the base. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizzas are heated through. Sprinkle basil leaves over the tops of pizzas before serving.