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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.

Corn

Corn is a very popular garden vegetable, and one that should be included in all but the smallest of gardens. There are many types to choose from. Sweet corn is favored for fresh eating or freezing, field corn (or "flint corn") is used dry for grinding into corn meal and is also widely grown as an animal feed, and pop corn can be grown for popping or to grind into a fine corn flour.

Popular folklore maintains that corn should be planted when "oak leaves are as large as a squirrels ear," so that they can be "knee high by the 4th of July." Most varieties of corn will grow best if planted just a little later, when the soil has warmed up a bit more. Since a patch of sweet corn may produce more corn than a family can eat all at once, you may want to plant smaller patches in stages, about two weeks apart to extend the harvest.

The depth that corn seed is planted will vary a bit depending on the time of year. Early in the season, when the soil is cool and usually more moist, corn should be planted only one and a half inches deep. When the soil has become very warm, or if the soil is very dry, the seed should be planted two and a half or three inches deep to conserve moisture.

Corn is a "monocot" that is closely related to grass, and is a wind pollinated plant. The pollen produced from the tassels at the top of the plant must fall on the silks that grow out of the ear in order for the corn kernels to develop properly. To insure proper pollination, it is important to plant corn in square blocks rather than in long thin rows. The closer each plant is to other corn plants, the better the chances of it being properly pollinated. A corn patch should be at least four plants across in each direction. If planting seed in stages, a few weeks apart, each "sub-patch" should also be at least four plants across in each direction, as the pollen from the first planting will be gone by the time the next group of plants are able to make use of it.

Some modern hybrid sweet corn, particularly the "super sweet" varieties, must be pollinated by the same variety of corn. If you are growing this type of corn, it is best to grow only that one variety or to locate different varieties at least 25 feet apart.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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