Bite into an ear of corn freshly harvested from your backyard garden and you may never want to buy corn in a grocery store again. Corn is relatively low maintenance, and most corn varieties are ready for harvesting within 70 to 100 days after planting, according to the University of Illinois. Corn can be grown in any USDA hardiness zone so long as the temperature remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the duration of the corn's growing season, according to Iowa State University.
Not all corn varieties are suitable for planting in a backyard garden. Varieties can be divided into three categories, according to the University of Illinois: normal sugary, sugary enhancer and supersweet. The University of Illinois recommends planting sugary enhancer corn because it has the best flavor and quality of all corn types. Example varieties include Alpine, Cotton Candy and Telstar.
The soil temperature must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the corn seeds to germinate, according to Iowa State University. For faster seedling development, wait to plant the corn until the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually occurs during the months of April or May.
Corn grows the best in deep, rich soil, according to Purdue University. Break up the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches with a spade, or a mechanical tool like a rototiller if you're preparing a large gardening area. Mix in 3 to 4 inches of aged compost to boost the soil's organic material content. Follow this with fertilizer to give the future corn seedlings the nutrients they need for vigorous growth. Purdue University recommends using basic 12-12-12 garden fertilizer, applied at a rate of 4 lbs. for every 100 square feet of dirt.
The corn seeds should be buried approximately an inch in the dirt. Each kernel should be spaced apart by 12 inches, according to the University of Illinois. For the best pollination of the corn, and therefore the best corn kernel development, plant at least two rows of the same corn variety and space the rows by 3 feet.
Common corn pests like beetles and the corn borer may attack your corn shortly after germination. Purdue University recommends any standard carbaryl-based insecticide to control corn pests. Such products can be purchased from all garden stores. Apply the insecticide at the first sign of problems to prevent your new corn seedlings from being eaten.