Sweetcorn, You Are Amaizing


First cobs of 2022

Picked and enjoyed our first sweetcorn cobs of 2022 on 16th September. I grow sweetcorn every year but cannot find any records of first pickings from previous years.

This is the first time I have grown this variety (Incredible F1):

A very reliable Sugar enhanced variety “Incredible” delivers large 22cm (9in) cobs with excellent flavour on tall 8ft high plants.  Good tolerance to rust and crops well even in wetter British summers.

With the hot dry summer we have just experienced, I cannot vouch as to whether it crops well 'even in wetter British summers'. However, I can vouch for the plants being 8ft tall...

This Year's Sweetcorn Crop (Incredible F1)

There are lots of sweetcorn varieties to pick from including early, mid-season, and late cultivars. I always sow, and therefore recommend, modern F1 varieties that have sugar-enhanced, supersweet or extra tendersweet in their description. As the name suggests, these cultivars are much sweeter than heritage and non-F1 varieties - so you can skip that knob of butter for a healthier meal.

They also keep their sweetness even after freezing. We just strip off the outer leaves (husk/shucks) and silks, pop into a plastic bag and freeze.

In mid-May, I sow seeds under cover (9 cm pots containing Fertile Fibre Seed Compost). Later sowings, from the beginning of June, can be sown directly outdoors. Even so, I prefer to sow into 9 cm pots, filled with seed compost, rather than directly into the soil...

Young sweetcorn plants

...as this allows more targetted (and hence economical) watering and offers some protection against mice. The hosta rings protect against slug attacks until the plants are strong enough to look after themselves. Once the plants have germinated and developed a strong root system...

Strong, healthy root system (Incredible F1 Sweetcorn)

...they can be planted into the ground - still with some protection from slugs - in a block formation...

Block planting (Sweetcorn)

In hindsight, I got the positions of the sweetcorn and potatoes the wrong way round because the potatoes overshadowed the later-sown sweetcorn. I had to restrain the potatoes nearest the sweetcorn by trimming a few leaves and using poles and string. I shall try not to make the same mistake next year!

Once the plants were established, I removed the hosta rings and kept the patch weed-free. Because of the hot dry weather in August, I gave the soil around each plant a one-time thorough soak followed by a feed/mulch with my sieved homemade compost. Otherwise, the plants were left to get on as best they could. The only things to remember with growing sweetcorn is: (i) they like hot sunny weather so don't plant out too early (from the beginning of June in Hereford), (ii) always plant in blocks, not rows, because they are wind-pollinated - anything bigger than a 3 x 3 block should be fine, and (iii) only plant one variety to ensure a tasty crop of divine sweetness - cross-pollination with another variety may lose all the advantages, including taste, of your F1 hybrid.

Depending on the variety and the size of your plot, one packet of seed may last for two years. Then you can try a different variety! Using raised beds, I can plant my corn closer together than the distances typically recommended on the seed packets.

Once the corn has been harvested, the stalks and leaves are composted in my hot composting systems. The bare ground is covered with a layer of homemade compost (non-sieved) and either covered with black plastic (to suppress weeds and stop the local cat population using the plot as a toilet) or sown with green manure.


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