How to Grow Corn From Seed to Harvest

Overview

Growing corn is one of the more challenging vegetables there is for the home gardener. When well cared for, however, the delicious, sweet crunch of corn fresh off the homegrown cob is unduplicated in any supermarket variety. Corn needs to be planted in groups together in order to allow for pollination by the wind so smaller gardens will need to hold only one variety while larger areas can support more without hybridization. With extra care you will be able to grow corn from seed to harvest.

Step 1

Prepare an area of your garden for the corn which gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Corn needs to be planted in at least four shorter rows which form a square rather than one long row, so dig a bed large enough to accommodate the number of plants you want.

Step 2

Loosen the soil by digging it 8 to 10 inches deep. Layer well-rotted manure or compost over the bed 3 to 4 inches deep and turn the soil to mix it in. Prepare the area for your rows by leaving 2 to 3 feet between each row and marking the beginning and ending of each row with a garden stake.

Step 3

Plant in the spring after any danger of frost has passed by sowing your seeds 1 to t2 inches deep every 4 to 6 inches. You can plant early, midseason, and late varieties all around the same time for a continuous harvest over the growing season so long as each variety has its own bed at least 20 feet away from other corn crops.

Step 4

Water the soil in each row enough to thoroughly moisten it without making it waterlogged. Check on the soil daily and water as needed to keep the soil well-moistened as the seeds germinate.

Step 5

Thin the successful seedlings to make the plant spacing 12 to 18 inches apart when the seedlings reach 6 inches high. Mound up soil around the bottom 2 to 3 inches of each remaining plant to strengthen it.

Step 6

Keep up with regular watering two and three times a week. Corn plants tend to stay thirsty, so strive to find a good balance between well-watered, moist soil, and soaking wet. The amount of water you need may increase as summer moves in and as the stalks begin to form ears.

Step 7

Fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer following the maker's directions, or add compost around the plant bases when the corn stalks reach a foot tall. Repeat fertilizing or adding more compost again when the stalks hit around 30 inches tall.

Step 8

Harvest ripe cobs by pulling them from the stalks when the silks on the ends have turned brown, and when opened and punctured with a fingernail the kernel holds a milky white fluid rather than clear.

Tips and Warnings

  • Treat any infestation or disease as soon as you notice it with the appropriate pesticide or fungicide, otherwise you may lose your entire crop.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Well-rotted manure or compost
  • Garden stakes or sticks
  • Corn seeds
  • Water
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer

References

  • "Vegetable Gardening: Your ultimate guide"; Robert J. Dolezal; 2000
  • "Seed Sowing and Saving"; Carole B. Turner; 1998
Keywords: how to grow corn from seed to harvest, growing corn from seed, starting corn from seed

About this Author

Margaret Telsch-Williams is a freelance, fiction, and poetry writer from the Blue Ridge mountains. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, she works for WidescreenWarrior.com as a contributor and podcast co-host.