How to Grow Organic Sweet Corn

Overview

Sweet corn, a warm-season vegetable native to the U.S., grows rapidly in the garden when provided with adequate environmental conditions. Valued for its sweet taste and tenderness when freshly picked, sweet corn is popular with home gardeners across the country. Growing organic sweet corn successfully requires choosing an appropriate planting site, fertilizing to boost growth, usually with organic compost, providing enough water, manually removing competitive weeds and harvesting when the ears are fully mature.

Step 1

Plant organic sweet corn during early spring, just before the final frost-free date of the year. Apply a 1-inch layer of organic compost to the planting site and use a garden tiller to work it into the soil to increase nitrogen content and moisture retention.

Step 2

Sow each sweet corn kernel 1 to 1½ inches deep in the soil. Space each kernel 9 to 15 inches apart, depending on variety, in rows spaced 30 to 36 inches apart to allow enough room for growth. Water immediately after planting to initiate germination.

Step 3

Water once every 10 days during the remainder of spring to help establish the roots. Increase the frequency of watering to once a week during summer, as the plants will require more water to develop and survive the hot weather.

Step 4

Feed organic sweet corn once it reaches about 12 to 18 inches high. Side-dress with organic compost to provide plenty of nitrogen for ear formation and growth. Apply about 1 to 2 inches of compost alongside each row of corn and water in thoroughly.

Step 5

Use a hoe to till the soil around the plants and disrupt weeds. Cultivate the soil to a depth of about 1 to 2 inches to avoid damaging the root system of the corn. Manually remove any tilled weeds to prevent self-propagation.

Step 6

Harvest organic sweet corn about 20 days after the first silk strands appear on the ears. Check to ensure each kernel is plump and exudes a white, milky substance when punctured. Remove the ears from the plant by snapping them off with a firm, downward thrust, then twist while pulling.

Step 7

Consume the harvested vegetable immediately, or store in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Do not leave the corn at room temperature for any length of time, as the sugar content will quickly decrease and the amount of starch will increase until it is inedible.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Hoe

References

  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Watch Your Garden Grow: Corn
  • Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Growing Sweet Corn in the Backyard Garden
  • "Grow the Best Corn;" Nancy Bubel; 1996
Keywords: organic sweet corn, sweet corn, growing organic sweet corn

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.