GIY Sweetcorn

I am married to one of the world’s biggest fans of sweetcorn. Maybe he has been reincarnated from an indigenous tribe from the Americas, where our modern sweetcorn has its antecedents as the primary carbodydrate staple. He has planted his first seed of this season into small pots to get them started under cover and he will plant them out, in accordance with NZ tradition, at Labour Weekend. From there, he will sow in succession through as late as the end of January in order to get fresh corn for a period of five months of the year. Sweetcorn is worth growing at home because the freshly picked product is infinitely superior to anything you will buy. The natural sugars start turning to starch almost immediately on picking.

Corn can either be sown direct into the ground (well cultivated soil and full sun, as with most vegetables) or started in small pots. He Who Grows the Corn here does not subscribe to the advice sometimes given to sow closely together. Quite the opposite – too close and the tall stems lack strength and fail to develop full cobs. You only get one or two good cobs per plant anyway. He recommends spacings of 20 to 30cm between plants and up to a metre between rows. They need lots of sunshine and light and growing in open conditions means the stems will be stronger and hold themselves up. Corn is a gross feeder so needs plenty of compost added and they respond well to superphosphate if you want to add a general garden fertiliser.

Modern corn is far removed from the old heritage crops which are more akin to tougher maize. These days we save our own seed but started from Honey and Pearl which is one of the newer generation hybrids which made corn more palatable to eat and easier to prepare.