Plant sweetcorn in blocks, not rows

Don’t forget to plant your sweetcorn plants in blocks rather than in rows – they are pollinated by wind, so the proximity of growing them in a block will help to give you a much better crop. Poor pollination results in disappointing corn-on-the-cobs, with just a few edible corn kernels forming on each cob. For a full and juicy corn-on-the-cob, you need to maximize the chances of pollination.

As part of the grass family, sweetcorn plants are wind-pollinated. As the plants grow, the pollen from the tops of the plant (the male flower) needs to reach the tassels that peak out of the end of each husk (the female flower). Each of these female tassels is connected to an individual sweetcorn kernel inside the husk, and needs to be pollinated in order for that kernel to swell.

The likelihood of this pollination happening effectively is hugely increased when you plant your sweetcorn plants in blocks. The pollen from the male flowers can more easily reach the female flowers when the plants are spaced approximately 30cm apart each way.

If you’ve already planted them in rows, don’t despair – you could move them if you have space, or you can help your plants when they mature by giving them a gentle shake and dabbing the pollen from the top tassels onto the female tassels on the ends of the cobs.