Maize won’t really grow as high as an elephant’s eye but when grown correctly is sweeter than wine, especially when picked and eaten within hours. Sun and dry weather are needed for the plants to grow big enough and to set the kernels or niblets effectively.
Soil and position
Because sweetcorn is pollinated by wind transfer of pollen, the plants must be grown close together in a square block rather than a single row or dotted around the garden. Choose a site that receives maximum sun and then improve your soil so that it is rich in nutrients and organic matter. If your soil lacks organic matter, dig in some Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner and enrich with an organic fertiliser such as Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Plant Food.
Hybrid varieties produce the sweetest kernels and ‘Early Extra Sweet’ is the standard that all new varieties try to beat, although ‘Marika’, ‘Sweet Perfection’ and ‘Early Bird’ are said to be good. Latest gene technology has produced enhanced sweetness with varieties such as ‘Butterscotch’ or ‘Swift’. But if you prefer a less chewy texture then the tendersweet varieties ‘Lark’ and ‘Extra Tender and Sweet’ are for you.
If you wait until June you can sow seed where it is to grow. However to get an early start most people sow seeds in individual pots or cells filled with Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Enriched Compost in early May. Keep the pots indoors until early June when they will be ready for planting out.
Plant out in square or rectangular blocks rather than a single row. This helps wind pollination to be most effective. Plant into a shallow indentation in the soil so that watering immediately after planting and subsequently will be easier.
See that the plants are kept well watered, especially during flowering when the silk tassles are producing pollen. During the summer add some Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Concentrated Liquid Plant Food to the watering can every fortnight to ensure the plants grow fast and the kernels swell.
When the silks have turned chocolate brown, test the kernels for ripeness. Pull back the green leaves that cover the cob and press one or two niblets with a nail. If the content is creamy then it’s ripe to eat. If the content is clear the cob is unripe, so wait. If the content is solid then you’ve left them too long. Boil as soon as possible after picking in plain water (no salt) and you will taste perfect sweetcorn. Avoid over picking because cobs that are left in the fridge for a day or two will gradually lose their sweetness.