Pests and Garden garden tips Growing Sweet Corn

Growing Sweet Corn

The flavour of fresh, home grown sweet corn is amazing. Once the cobs are picked from the plants the sugar within them begins to turn to starch, that is why fresh sweet corn cooked and eaten within an hour of picking tastes so much better than shop bought corn.

There are still a lot of people who think that sweet corn can only be grown in semi-tropical climates and these people are so wrong. With new and improved varieties it is so much easier to grow this type of crop in colder climates. A variety such as Conquest will grow well in the UK climate.

Growing Stages

Soil Preparation

Sweet corn plants are big plants and need plenty of water so soil with enough humus is essential. Good drainage is also a must as sweet corn plants don’t like growing in a boggy area.

The soil should be well dug in autumn incorporating compost while digging thoroughly. It is however important that the soil is deep and fertile.

Sowing and Planting

Sweet corn must be planted in rectangular blocks, the problem with planting them in rows is that the plants will not pollinate each other. Effective wind pollination is essential if you are growing sweet corn.

Outdoor sowings are not as reliable as sweetcorn sown in pots in greenhouses, on the window sill or under a cloche in late April. Sow each seed in 3 inch round peat pots filled with multi-purpose compost. Harden off before planting outdoors.

When transplanting them outdoors you should plant them in blocks with each plant being 18 inches away from the next.

Looking After the Plants

Sweet corn plants don’t really need much special care. Watering when dry will be required, keeping the soil weed free is also important but you should be careful not to disturb the roots.

When the tassels at the top of the stems are fully developed you may wish to tap them to encourage them to pollinate each other.


A lot of gardeners who are new to growing sweet corn are worried about when to pick the corn and pick them too early. You can test the ripeness of a sweet corn cob by pulling back the sheath once the tassels have turned chocolate brown and squeezing a corn kernel. If the liquid that comes out is creamy the sweet corn is ready to harvest.

Minipop Sweet Corn

Minipop sweet corn is harvested as soon as the tassels show, before the sweet corn is pollinated. As Minipop does not need pollinating it can be planted in rows rather than the traditional blocks.

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