Growing Corn
Growing Corn

All about Corn > Growing Corn

Family: Gramineae

Culture: Annual, by seeding

Climate: hot and wet, though it can take temperate climates; doesn't tolerate frost

Soil: deep, well-drained, humus-rich soil

Height: generally smaller plants are grown, i.e. about 1.2 metres (4') in height so as not to cast too much shadow on other plants, though corn can easily reach 2 m (6')

It was the Spanish and the Portuguese who introduced corn to western Africa, the East Indies and Asia. "Turkish wheat," as it was called in the Middle East, was also found in Persia during the reign of the Turkomans.

Planting outdoors
Corn has to be sown directly in the ground, a few grains at a time in April or May, once all risk of frost is past. Allow 30-40 cm between plants, since it needs room as its grows.

Because of its height, corn needs reinforcement, so it is recommended that the earth be hilled up around the base to strengthen its roots. It requires frequent watering. It loves having its feet in water and its head in the sun.

It is best to cover the soil with a mulch of organic matter, which has a triple advantage: it retains moisture, reduces weeds and enriches the soil as it breaks down.

Sowing can be carried out at two week intervals to obtain an extended harvest. You have to wait about 105 days to obtain excellent corn. Corn plants can be subject to caterpillar infestation (remove them before using an insecticide) or be afflicted with smut (black rust) which causes grey growths on the ears and kernels, in which case the plants have to be burned.

Fertilization is strange, since the male and female are found on two flowers on the same plant: the male flower grows at the top while the female flower nestles in the axils of the leaves. Pollen is deposited on the pistils and the corn bears fruit.

The harvest takes place at the end of July, usually continuing throughout August for "table" corn while the kernels are milky and coloured. Corn for forage and decoration is harvested in October or November. If you wish to dry corn, it has to be done in a well-aerated and well-ventilated area on screens or a sieve, since it tends to ferment quickly.

Hints and Tips
The cooked cobs, with their kernels removed, make an excellent humidifier. When you repot your house plants, place one or two lengths of cob in the bottom of the pot before adding the soil. The root ball will retain all the moisture needed for plant growth, and transplanting shock will be reduced.


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