Row by Row Episode 137: The Best Way to Plant Corn in the Vegetable Garden

Things to Consider When Growing Corn

Before deciding whether to plant corn in the garden, there are a few important isolation requirements you need to follow in order to avoid cross-pollination of sweet corn. If you do not want cross-pollination of sweet corn you should either plant a synergistic variety or stagger your plantings 2 to 3 weeks in your garden. You should also consider whether you have time to process and harvest the corn once it’s ready. If you don’t have time to process and put away some of the standard varieties all in one day, you should probably consider growing some of the sweeter varieties that leave you a 10 to 15-day window to put up on the homestead. Another important factor to consider is whether this is your first time growing corn. If it is your first time growing corn, we recommend growing a standard variety such as G90, Jubilee, or Silver Queen. We recommend a standard variety due to the longer growing period which allows you more time to apply plenty of fertilizer and water.

Growing Corn in the Vegetable Garden

The key factor when growing corn is to plant corn in a square plot with at least three rows side-by-side. If you are growing in a raised bed you can still plant corn just try and squeeze in three rows if you can. The major reason why we plant corn in square plots is that corn is wind-pollinated therefore in order to get full ears of kernel those tassels need to side-by-side. The ideal pH for growing corn is between 5.8 – 6.5, however, if you get above 7 you may run into some trouble in the garden. For older corn varieties, you can get them germinating at 55 degrees. However, for the sweeter varieties, the soil temperature should be around 60 degrees. As far as, row spacing we recommend spacing them between 30 to 36 inches. While seed spacing is a little different based on whether you are planting sweet or field corn. We suggest planting sweet corn seeds around 6 to 8 inches apart on drip tape in the vegetable garden. While field corn seeds should be planted anywhere between 8 to 12 inches apart. Since corn is a heavy feeder, drip irrigation is more effective and way easier to supply the plants with the needed amount of water directly at the plant roots.

Fertilizing Schedule for Corn

When fertilizing corn, Nitrogen is the key component to accomplishing great success when growing corn in the vegetable garden. The standard corn recommendation is five pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet or 300-row feet. Once corn plants reach 6 to 8 inches tall, we suggest using our Fertilizer Injector to apply 2 lbs of 20-20-20 and 1 cup of Micro-Boost per 1,000 square feet. Then, once they reach 12 to 18″ tall at our first hilling we apply 10 lbs of Chilean Nitrate. Next, we will side dress again with Chilean Nitrate once the corn reaches around “hiney high” which will also be our last cultivation. When the corn reaches around “titty high” we will inject 4 lbs of 20-20-20 and 1 cup of Micro-Boost per 1,000 square feet. The last time we fertilize is when plants start tasseling and we give them another 4 lbs of 20-20-20 and 1 cup of Micro-Boost to top them off in the garden. So in total if you have a 1,000 square plot of corn with no nutrients in your soil already you will need a bag of 20-20-20, one quart of Micro-Boost, and 2 bags of Chilean Nitrate. The most common pest problem when growing corn is earworms. The best pest control product to use when dealing with earworms is to use Spinosad and apply it on the silks.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, Greg and Travis talk a little bit about the weather conditions that have caused several issues for gardeners this year so far. The guys also show off a new product which is our Hoss Germination Mats that are offered in 3 different sizes. Travis goes over some new pumpkin and sunflower varieties that are now available on the website. The two new heirloom pumpkin varieties are both giant or larger type pumpkins known as Mammoth Gold Pumpkin and Big Max Pumpkin. We also have three new giant sunflowers which are Skyscraper, Giant Grey Stripe, and Mammoth Sunflower.

Viewer Questions

For the Q & A segment this week, the guys answer some viewer questions about bulbing onions, cross-pollination of melons, and best flower seeds for pollinators. When growing onions once they start the bulbing process you will be able to see the soil cracking around the onion plant. When planting Sugar Baby Watermelons and cantaloupe you do not have to worry about cross-pollination since they are two different species. The best flower seeds to attract pollinators in the vegetable garden is our Bee Mix Wildflower Mix. You can also attract pollinators with zinnias and sunflowers.

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