How to Grow Sweet Corn

When you grow your own sweet corn and eat them fresh, you won’t believe the difference in taste. 

Fresh Sweet Corn Sweeter Straight from Filed

Fresh Sweet Corn Sweeter Straight from Filed

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - Gardeners Guide

Materials Needed

  • sweet corn seeds of choice
  • well-drained soil
  • quick-growing catch cropseeds (optional)

Step 1: Sow Seed in Spring

Plant Sweet Corn in Blocks for Good Pollination

Plant Sweet Corn in Blocks for Good Pollination

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sweet corn requires a hot season to produce a good crop, so plant in a sheltered, sunny site with well-drained soil. In colder areas, sow seed in the spring under cover in a heated propagator, set to a minimum temperature of 61–70 degrees F. To encourage good pollination, plant sweet corn in blocks, 18 inches apart, so the pollen can be blown by the wind from plant to plant. Baby corn can be planted more closely, 6 inches apart. Grow the seedlings at room temperature, and harden them off once the risk of frost has passed.

Step 2: Co-Plant With Other Crops

Co Plant Corn with Other Crops that Mature Faster

Co Plant Corn with Other Crops that Mature Faster

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sweet corn is slow to develop, and young plants cast only light shade. Take advantage of the space below them as they develop, and underplant with a quick-growing catch crop, such as beets, radishes or kohlrabi.

Step 3: Test the Cobs

Check Corn Cob for Readiness By Testing Top Kernel

Check Corn Cob for Readiness By Testing Top Kernel

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Leave late-season cobs to ripen as long as possible before the first frost. Check to see if cobs are ready by exposing the cob and pressing a fingernail into a kernel. If it exudes milky sap, it is ready to harvest. The minute a cob is picked, the sugar in the kernels starts turning to starch, reducing its tenderness and sweetness.

Next Up

How to Grow Corn

Corn is a tender plant that's easily damaged by cold weather. Sow it or put out transplants only after the soil has warmed.

How to Make a Corn Maze

Specialized companies create most modern corn mazes, but you can grow a small cornfield in your own backyard.

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

How to Sow and Plant Mediterranean-Style Vegetables

The jewel-like fruits of these decorative plants make beautiful displays in pots in a greenhouse, on a windowsill or in a sunny spot outside.

How to Grow Parsnips

For the best winter parsnips, sow as soon as the soil has warmed up in spring. They will grow all summer, forming sweet and starchy winter roots.

How to Grow Shallots

Many people prefer the sweet, milder flavor of shallots as an alternative to onions. They can be harvested earlier and stored longer than onions.

How to Grow Watercress From Seedlings

One way to grow watercress is by starting with seeds, but you can also grow fresh plants by using watercress seedlings as a base.

How to Plant an Indoor Salad Garden

Follow these simple tips to have fresh produce throughout the entire year.

How to Sow and Plant Designer Leaves

Add a dash of style to your containers and dishes by growing a selection of gourmet leaf crops.

How to Grow Mesclun

Learn how to grow ingredients for a delectible year-round salad.