sweet corn seedlings

Why would a person plant corn when the potatoes aren’t even in yet? Bear with me.

Next to tomatoes, I believe sweet corn is my favorite vegetable crop. And for much the same reason; you simply can’t buy corn anywhere, even at roadside stands, that tastes as good as fresh picked from the garden.

So several years ago I decided to try something that I was convinced was stupid. I started corn seed indoors.

Now you know if you’ve grown corn before that as you plant seeds some won’t germinate, leaving gaps in the row. And you’ve probably tried digging up a stray corn seedling and replanting it in the empty space.

If that’s the case, then you also know that corn sucks at being dug up and moved. If the seedling survives the move, it’s stunted and rarely produces ears.

That’s why I thought starting corn in a flat indoors was a hopeless, desperate venture. Why would it work any better than digging up a garden-grown seedling with a big root ball and transplanting it?

Well, it does. It works fantastically.

Before trying this method my average first ear ripened in the second week of August. Since, the average is the second week of July, adding 3 to 4 weeks of extra fresh sweet corn to our table. That all happens because the tender corn seedlings can get a jump on the weather indoors.

There are risks. Always risks in gardening, which is one reason you’re addicted, right?

You need to be gentle while you’re handling the little guys between the flat and the ground.  They’re still baby corn plants without much root structure.   One year there was a hard frost in the Spring, and I had to scurry to rig up sheets and whojiggits to cover the rows. The corn seedlings wilted a little, turned a little brown around the gills, but in the end they popped back and still gave me corn.

Worth the risk.

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15 thoughts on “sweet corn seedlings

    • Oh don’t even say that! So far the raccoons have found other sources of entertainment. The bigger problem up to now has been either rabbits or groundhogs chewing off the young seedlings, so I’ve been covering them with netting.

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      • I have not had good luck with corn. Every year each person in my house gets to “order” something they want grown in the garden. My husband wanted corn one year. It grew, but it was not good. It was hard and very small. I tried it once more before I gave up. I will follow your corn crop for inspiration.

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  1. Good to know about starting it indoors. I always thought it wouldn’t take the transplant well.

    The only sweet corn I ever see around here is white corn. I really like yellow corn much more than white. Add to that the fact the about 90% of our corn is GMO, and I refuse to buy fresh corn anymore. I WILL be growing it when we move to our retirement property!

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    • That’s the worst, isn’t it Julie? Find your own food, beasts! I’d say you’re good rather than lucky if you have success transplanting corn 🙂

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    • You need about 1 1/2′ between stalks. They should be planted in a block as opposed to just a row for pollination purposes. But I plant three rows at a time with the 1 1/2′ spacing and that works well. Hope you can work some corn in 🙂

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  2. I have the same problem as jgeerlings. Two crops of beautifully matured corn harvested by raccoon in the night, only a few days before I was going to. My garden is unfenced; perhaps I should reconsider if not for corn alone. It is tasty right off the cob, straight off the plant. Thanks for sharing your adventure, Dan! Here’s to a glut.

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    • That’s the worst Shannon! I have no idea why the raccoons haven’t found my mature corn, yet the rabbits and groundhogs feast on the seedlings. I hope you solve your problem this year!

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