Sweet Corn

How To Grow Sweet Corn From Start To Finish

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Today it’s all about how to grow sweet corn from start to finish. Do you love hot corn on the cob? I sure do. Is your mouth watering just thinking about it? I love the company where I get my seeds because their corn is Organic. I want to explain why Organic is better than Non-GMO. These tips may help you understand why it’s better to buy organic sweet corn. Let me be clear, I am against GMO seeds and food. This is where I purchase my garden seeds: SeedsNow

Organic Seeds

  • No GMOs are ever used.
  • No Round-Up Herbicides are used (they can possibly cause the following cancers: kidney and breast cancer).
  • No-growth hormones which contribute to obesity in all of us. And don’t forget you may have antibiotic resistance.
  • No synthetic pesticides (linked to Leukemia and lymphoma)
  • No human waste, as in sewage sludge where the plants are grown and harvested.
  • There are more issues, but this lets you see why we need to be picky about what we eat. NOW.

Genetically Modified Seeds

  • They use herbicides, growth hormones, and pesticides, and the food is grown where feces may be present.
  • They are not Heirloom seeds, they are genetically modified. This means that any GMO product is an organism whose genetic material has been altered by using genetic engineering techniques.

Sweet Corn Soil Amendments

The first thing we need to do is pull any weeds that have come up since the last time you turned over the soil. Dig out any leftover crops that you may have missed the last time you harvested. Turn the soil several times and add the following amendments, if you need them.

Azomite Micronized Bag, 44 lb

FibreDust Coco Coir Block

Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound

Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb.

Espoma VM8 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

How To Grow Sweet Corn

Corn likes full sun, so plant accordingly. They need well-drained and fertile soil. Put 2-4 inches of compost and well-rotted manure so the soil will drain better. They need a soil ph level of 5.8 to 6.5. Add lime to raise the pH and add sulfur to lower it. Plant the seeds two weeks after the last frost in your area. It’s not recommended to plant seeds in the house and transplant them, so I have always sowed them directly outside. I’ve heard of people planting them inside and transplanting them later, just giving you the heads up.

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Plant the seeds 1.5 to 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart and in rows of three about 8-12 inches apart. You are better off having several rows, as in three, over having one really long row. They will pollinate better from one plant to another. Please make sure the temperature of the soil is 60 degrees F. or above for successful germination. This is the Garden Thermometer I have to test my soil temperature. Fertilize often with nitrogen and phosphorus. 16-16-8 is a good choice for fertilizer. Put two pounds of 16-16-8 per 100 square feet of garden.

Once you see sprouts, corn needs an additional fertilizer of 46-0-0, so sprinkle some around those sprouts. Once the stalks have 8-10 leaves add a ratio of 1/2 pound of 46-0-0 fertilizer to 100 square feet of garden. When the silk starts developing add 1/4 pound of 46-0-0 fertilizer to 100 square feet of garden.

I recommend spacing a few seeds every week so you can have corn for several weeks. Sweet corn is different than other vegetables. One stalk only grows 3-4 cobs and it’s done. Yep, all that work for 3 or 4 cobs, but it’s worth it, I promise.

Corn: ph level of 5.8 to 6.5

Sweet Corn

Why Do The Cobs Have Tassels?

The Tassels on the top of the corn provide the pollen that will drop to the ears below and then the kernels fill out and make sweet plump corn cobs. Pollination is critical. If the Tassels are the color shown below, the corn is still growing.

Sweet Corn

When Is The Corn Ready To Pick?

This is the fun part. When Tassels are dark brown like in the picture below they may be ready to pick. First, peel back the tip of the silk and check the sap. If you squeeze a kernel and it bleeds a white milky substance like thin milk, it’s ready to pick.

If the substance is clear they are not ready yet. When the substance is more like cream the cobs will be starchy. Pick those right away. You know when you have some sweet corn, it’s because it’s been picked at the perfect time.

Sweet Corn

What Is The Best Time To Pick?

The best time to pick your sweet corn is early in the morning when it’s cool.

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Sweet Corn

Is There An Easy Way To Clean It?

My son-in-law, Nate taught me the best way to clean corn. You cut both ends off and THEN peel back the silk and it comes right off. I wish I’d known this trick when I used to shuck, scrape, and freeze 12 dozen ears from our garden when the girls were young.

You can use a vegetable brush to scrub off the remaining silks before cooking.

What Is Blanching Corn?

If you decide to freeze a lot of corn as I do, you need to bring the clean cobs to a boil to destroy the enzymes before you freeze it. Then “blanch” them in cold water as shown below. This makes it so you can store the corn a little longer in your freezer. I never store mine for longer than one year. I put two cups of corn in each freezer bag and it tastes like freshly picked corn when you cook it even six months later. A little piece of heaven, if I don’t say so myself.

Mexican Corn On The Cob

I have to share the story about this Mexican Corn on the cob. Mark and I went to an activity in a city called Hurricane, Utah. It was called “Peach Days” and I saw a man walking with corn on the cob on a plate. It looked different than the usual buttered ones.

Well, I had to know what it was, so I asked him. He mentioned it was Mexican Corn and he pointed to the booth that was selling it. Oh my gosh, how did I not know that this awesome recipe existed? So, I went over and bought one and asked them what the seasoning contained. This is how I came up with the recipe. A little trial and error. I like Miracle Whip on mine, Mark likes mayo. Let me know if you had eaten this or not, I would love to hear.

Mexican Corn On The Cob by FSM
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Total Time
33 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
  • Ingredients:
  • 6-8 corn on the cobs (cooked, ends cut off with husks/silk removed)
  • 1 cup grated dry parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 teaspoons of chili powder (depends on how spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  1. Combine the parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Lather the corn cobs with mayo or Miracle Whip and then roll the cooked cobs in the mixture.

Final Word

I hope this post today gets you excited to start a garden, whether or not you plant some sweet corn. I bet you love homegrown tomatoes, right? It’s so easy to grow tomatoes, and when you see that first tomato ripen, it’s so exciting. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world. Linda

This is where I purchase my vegetable seeds: SeedsNow

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  1. Hi Linda ~
    Love, love, love sweet corn!
    Something that I learned the hard way: When cutting kernels off the cob to can or freeze corn off the cob, they spew sticky corn juice ALL OVER! When I was first married, my husband brought home 2 bushel baskets of corn and asked me what I could do with it! Well, I froze corn (on and off the cob), canned corn, made corn relish. Basically, whatever I could imagine at the time. When it came time to move to the house we bought (we were living in a duplex during corn season!!) I had to scrub every nook and cranny in my kitchen to get to all of the residual corn juice which had dried. If I had this to do again, I would definitely cut corn off the cob either outside or in a garage but preferably outside!

    Do you have good directions for planting 3 Sisters? (corn, beans, squash all together). This seems the most efficient use of garden space. The beans use the corn stalk as a climbing pole and the squash keeps the weeds down by covering the ground. I know how to do this but others might want to know and see photos.

  2. Can you explain what causes under-developed corn ears? It seems I’ve been having this issue the past 2-3 years. I planted at two intervals, with approximately six 25′ rows with each planting, so I don’t think this issue is due to a lack of plants for fertilization. It’s been frustrating to have beautiful corn plants, but under-developed corn ears.

    1. Hi Laurie, it can be a number of things. Here are my thoughts, lack of enough water, maybe plant the seeds deeper next year (this makes them stronger). It could be a lack of nitrogen, they need a lot of it to grow. Can you see any pests? My guess is water and nitrogen fertilizer. Linda

  3. I know this is a old post but I have a question. I always seem to get beautiful corn my problem is silk worms no matter what I do I get them. I have had old timers tell just just get the corn where silk worm hasn’t ate …HECK no gross.
    .i have tried DE, even seven dust even .any ideas will be helpful for next year. This year I didn’t plant corn was sick of all my work left to nasty silk worms

    1. Hi Joakima, I hear you on the silkworms, it’s so frustrating. I tried all the organic stuff, it never worked. I have to use Sevin, do I like it? No, I do not. But I know the corn I buy at the grocery stores the farmers used “stuff” to keep them away. It may be in the seeds or whatever, I don’t know. The seven dust does not work, I have to use the spray, it hooks to my garden hose. I hate using it but it is what is it, insects and critters. Linda

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