How To: Plant Corn By Hand
Corn is a fantastic vegetable, sweet and juicy corn is a delight! Growing them by hand requires the right environment to be successful.
Sadly, a lot of corn out there is GMO and full of pesticides, so it’s best to get ecological corn, or grow it yourself. However, washing and cooking it, might remove some of the pesticides.
Fresh corn is not to be mistaken with its by-products such as corn syrup (made from highly genetically modified corn), which are very bad for you. The most health benefits you can get, are from enjoying fresh corn (boiled or grilled).
There are many different types of corn you can choose from, depending on, if you grow it for animals (to feed them) or for your own consumption. Different types of sweet corn are the best if you are growing it for yourself. Consult an expert in your local garden store, to get the best seeds for you.
Details for Growing Corn
April and May ( late spring, early summer)
End of July, August
Temperature to Plant
Soil 60 F (15.5 degrees Celsius)
1.5 inches (4 cm)- Spacing: 9-12 inches (23-30 cm)
Rows 12-15 inches apart
Lots of sunlight (minimum of 6 hours a day)
South or areas with lots of sunlight
Keep the soil moist – well-drained
5.8 – 7 pH
Vitamins B, E and C, magnesium, zinc and Magnan
Table of Contents
Seven Steps to Growing Corn
The area to grow corn has to be at least 5×5 feet (1.5×1.5 m). You have to choose an area with lots of sunlight. Because the corn grows tall, you should consider its plant neighbors, not to cast too much shade on them.
Tilling the Soil
You should break up any large pieces of soil, and remove larger rocks from the area. Thoroughly cleaning the weeds from the area, it’s very important, giving your young plants the optimal start.
It’s advised to use compost, that will provide important nutrients and help with retaining moisture. Spread the compost evenly all over the area that you prepared, and mix it in with the soil. You can use ecological fertilizers such as chicken manure and similar.
Corn is very sensitive to frost, and it should be planted when the danger of frost is completely gone. Usually, from 2-3 weeks after the last frost should be enough. Depending on your climate, you might be able to plant it sooner or even later.
But it’s important that the soil reaches at least 60 F (15.5 degrees Celsius). Corn grows best when the temperature of the soil reaches from 60-80 F. The optimal pH to grow corn is from 5.8-7.
Before planting the seeds, you can soak them in warm water for max 8 hours.
You can make up to 4 rows on 4-5 feet of land. Each seed has to be separated, from 9-12 inches (23-30 cm), from the other. The seeds have to be planted 1.5 inches (4 cm), into the ground. You can make holes with a wooden stick or with your finger.
If you are planting larger areas, the same rules apply, just make sure, the seeds are separated from 9-12 inches.
After you finished planting the seeds, water well until the soil looks moist and dark. This part is very important to give your seeds an optimal start.
The first week after planting, you have to water the corn unless there is enough rain. The first 3-5 days are the most important. Water until the soil looks moist and dark, but not to the point to form pools of water.
If you live in an area with little rain, you might have to water your corn regularly (2-3 times a week).
Using a Hose
You can use a hose, whenever you think it’s necessary. Avoid sprinkling the water directly on the plants, as you might wash away the pollen. Make sure, the soil always has enough water.
Remove any weeds regularly and be careful not to damage the corn. Carefully work around your corn, not to damage its roots or the plant itself.
6 weeks after planting, you can use some ecological fertilizer, but make sure it’s the type you can use on growing vegetables (as some types might “burn” or damage them).
Corn silks are susceptible to earworms. These develop when eggs are laid on the developing silks.
To prevent them from thriving in your corn silks, and causing damage, you can make a homemade solution. Mix 50/50 of water and vegetable oil and add just a little of dishwashing detergent (few drops). Spray the corn silks with this solution every few weeks.
Protect your corn from animals, with building a fence or placing a net, and cleaning out any decaying plant parts that could attract them.
After the day that the corn silks start to appear from corn ears, there should be another three weeks or more, for the corn to mature. To check for ripeness, pierce one kernel and check the liquid. If the liquid is thick and white, the corn is ready. If it’s rather watery, the corn is not ready yet.
Another indication of the corn being ripe is when the silks turn to a darker brown. You will have to peel the husk a little to see if the corn inside is fully developed.
Return the Husk
If you opened any of the husks to test the corn, make sure to put them back in place to protect the corn from pests.
If the corn is ready, hold the plant tightly and use your other hand to twist the corn for 360 degrees (full circle) at its base, and snap it off. Corn is best when eaten fresh. You can store it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight, but it will lose some of its freshness.
Remove the husk, clean off the silks and wash it. If you have too much corn and you want to freeze it, cut the kernels and place them in plastic bags.