Some Corny Thoughts...

 We have been away for a short holiday in Mid-Wales, the Cambrian Mountains to be more precise. Consequently, we have been very busy in the garden since we got back. One of the many jobs was planting out the Sweetcorn.

Potato/Sweetcorn Plot

You have to be a little selective in the vegetables you plant in the same bed as potatoes. Tomatoes, aubergines (eggplants), peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, courgettes, onions, fennel carrots and turnips are just some of the vegetables NOT to plant next to potatoes. Apparently, sweetcorn, cabbage and beans enhance the flavour of the potatoes (not that I have particularly noticed since I only grow flavoursome potatoes). Spinach, lettuce, herbs and legumes are also good companion plants.

In most years, I will pair sweetcorn with potatoes in the same plot. The potatoes have been in the ground for about two months and are growing well. Normally, I would sow sweetcorn indoors (late April), harden-off in the polytunnel (mid-May) for planting out in position in late May/early June. As with all things gardening, weather and other stuff often mean a change of plans.

This year, the first sweetcorn seed was sown on May 18th in 9 cm pots using Fertile Fibre Seed Compost. Germination (about 10 days) was a little slow, even in the polytunnel, due to a colder than usual May. I sow one seed per pot which allows the plant to develop a good root system with minimal disturbance when transplanting outside. Due to space limitations, I sow in batches of eight for successional harvesting during late summer/early autumn. Germination rates are typically 90% or more with fresh seed. This year I'm growing Incredible F1 from D.T. Brown.

As we planned to be away, I couldn't leave the pots with seeds or seedlings in the polytunnel because it would get too hot and they would dry out. Seven seedlings were planted directly into the ground inside a Hosta Halo (top of next photo taken on return from holiday). Pots with no obvious sign of germination were buried half-deep in the soil, again inside a Hosta Halo. Everything was well-watered in the hope there might also be some rain while we were away (spoiler alert: while it rained in Wales, it did not rain in Hereford!). Hosta Haloes are normally used for slug protection (unnecessary in this case because the soil had had a second Nemaslug treatment about a week before). However, they are also good for directing irrigation water around the roots where it is needed and ensuring the water goes deep into the soil - simply fill the halo with water and allow it to soak into the ground. As the photo below, taken on return from our holiday, shows: everything had thrived or survived.

Sweetcorn in Hosta Haloes

 After checking the recently germinated corn had a good root system...

Corn with strong tap root

...they were transplanted into the ground by digging a hole six inches deep, filling the hole with two handfuls of homemade sieved compost...

Sieved Garden Compost/Soil Improver

...soaking the planting area with water from a watering can...

Well-watered planting hole

...and bedding the plant into the ground. [Note: the plot had already been dressed with unsieved compost in early May]. Add Hosta Halo and water again.

Repeat the process with French Beans!

French Beans in Pots Ready to Plant Out in the Ground

I do not claim this is the best or optimum way to grow sweetcorn. It works for me, makes the best use of my time and the space available and produces a good crop of truly sweet corn-on-the-cob; including plenty for freezing and enjoying through Winter and Spring.


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