Gardening > Grow Your Own... Sweetcorn

Grow Your Own... Sweetcorn

Boil it whole and eat it drenched in butter, cut it up into smaller slices or take the kernels off the cob and eat them as an accompaniment to any meal. Whichever way you eat it, fresh sweetcorn is a real treat especially if it has just been picked from your garden.

Choose a warm site in full sun for your sweetcorn where there is plenty of shelter from the wind. Finding a suitable place to grow sweetcorn is very important.

Dig the bed over during the winter before sowing, incorporating plenty of well-rotted, organic matter into the soil. For sweetcorn this is essential as the soil must be well-drained but also able to hold moisture.

Sweetcorn does well in a slightly acid soil.

Sow sweetcorn indoors in peat pots in April or in early May under cloches outside. In mild areas sweetcorn can be sown outside without cloches in late May.

To aid pollination sow the seeds or plant out the seedlings (when hardened off) in blocks, not in a single row. Leave 18 inches between rows.

If using cloches remove them as soon as the plants begin to touch the top. As the sweetcorn grows cover any exposed roots with soil or well-rotted compost.

Water the sweetcorn regularly if the weather is dry especially when the plants are in flower. If there is a lot of wind stake the plants.

Sweetcorn cobs are usually ready for picking in mid-August to mid-September. Each plant should yield up to 2 cobs. The cob is ready when the silks are a dark, rich brown in colour and when the kernels are juicy and give off a creamy juice when squeezed. It is importqant to use sweetcorn immediately after picking.


Fruit Fly

The maggots of the fruit fly burrow into the plants.
Symptoms: Stunted growth, twisted ragged leaves and small cobs.
Remedy: Try fine mesh netting to stop fruit fly getting to cobs.


Ugly wart-like growths appear on the plant. If left they will burst and black spores will be released.
Symptoms: Wart-like growths on plants.
Remedy: Cut the warts off and burn them as soon as they appear on the plant. Burn the plants after harvesting. Do not grow sweetcorn on the same plot for at least 3 years.