A sunny site
Choose well drained soil in a sunny, sheltered site for the best results.
Raised beds or a traditional veg plot is best
Sweetcorn plants need a little space and are best grown in raised beds or an allotment. Because they are so tall they are not well suited to growing in pots, however you can grow baby sweetcorn (Minipop) in pots or a growbag.
How far apart?
Allow 40cm between plants (baby corn can be planted 20cm apart)
Plant in grid formation
The key to growing sweetcorn is to plant them in blocks rather than rows – e.g. 3 adjacent rows rather than one long row – this allows for better cross-pollination, which means you’re more likely to get a good crop (if they don’t get pollinated, the kernels won’t swell).
Protect from frost
You need to wait until the last risk of frost before planting your sweet corns outside – until then, grow them in pots under glass. If in doubt, protect with fleece or cloche.
Water well for the first week or so while the sweetcorn plants are getting established. Thereafter they’ll need watering during dry spells.
Keep weeds down
Use a hoe to weed between plants on a regular basis – a couple of times a week should do the trick.
Earth up as plants get taller
Once the plants reach approx 1m tall, it is a good idea to earth them up around the base. Simply bring a little soil around the base of the plant to make a molehill like mound, and firm it down. This will give the plants a little more stability on windy days. (You don’t need to do this for baby sweetcorn)
When to harvest
Harvest sweetcorn towards the end of the summer/beginning of autumn. Once the strands on the ends of the cob start to turn dark brown (almost black) they are ready to pick. You can double check by peeling back the outer husk and piercing a kernel with your thumbnail – if the liquid is milky, it’s ready to be picked. If it’s clear, you need to be a little more patient!
For baby corn, harvest young while the tassels are still pale.