Saturday, April 3, 2010

Growing Sweet Corn in Southern California

I have a patch in my garden where I grew Okinawan Sweet Potatoes last year (see this blog entry). I had a difficult time digging up the Sweet Potatoes, so I am switching to mostly growing them in containers this year. This leaves an empty spot in the garden.

My family likes to eat sweet corn. Sweet Corn is plentiful and cheap during a few weeks in the summer, but is expensive the rest of the time. So this year, I decided to try to see if I can grow Sweet Corn in my garden.

I read on the Internet that there are 3 types of Sweet Corn: Standard Sweet Corn, Sugary Extended Sweet Corn and SuperSweet Corn.

Standard Sweet Corn is easiest to grow, as it is most tolerant of germination temperature and planting depth, but loses its sweetness rapidly after harvest.

Sugary Extended Sweet Corn is sweeter than Standard Sweet Corn but is harder to grow. It needs higher soil temperature and needs to be handled carefully after harvest. It can keep its sweetness for up to 4 days after harvest.

SuperSweet Corn is the sweetest Sweet Corn but is the most difficult to grow. It needs even higher soil temperatures than Sugary Extended Sweet Corn and precise planting depth. It can keep its sweetness for up to 10 days after harvest.

Since this is my first attempt at growing corn, I decided to plant the easiest Sweet Corn to grow: Standard Sweet Corn.

I bought a packet of Early Sunglow Sweet Corn from Park Seed last December and waited until the soil temperature got warm enough.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought the weather had gotten sufficiently warm that I decided to plant the corn seeds.

I planted the seeds very close together (about 8 inches apart) in 5 rows. Corn needs to be close together, as Corn pollinates by wind and if all of the kernels do not get pollinated, you get blank spots on the cob. Eight inches was probably too close together, but I did not know how well the seeds would germinate.

The picture above shows how my corn seedlings looked today. They started to emerge a week ago (about a week after planting). Of the 21 seeds that I planted, I got 18 seedlings. an 85% germination rate. I was very surprised.

I am going to let them grow. If things start to get crowded, I'll thin them out a bit.

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