Corn is a warm weather crop and it is sown directly in the garden one week before the final spring frost is expected. Corn is one of those crops that can not be started indoors. To find a final spring frost date in most countries, visit the BackyardGardener. It takes corn 65 – 120 days to reach maturity. Corn needs to be planted in an area with full sun exposure. It requires a soil pH around 6.0. Corn also needs very nitrogen rich soil. Mix a lot of compost into the soil prior to planting. The corn seeds should be planted 1 to 1 ½ inches deep.
Why Grow Corn?
Because corn is so inexpensive to purchase at the store, many home gardeners choose not to grow it. However, home grown corn is sweeter and tastier than most varieties purchased in the store. Organic heirloom corn is very sweet and has a flavor that you will not likely find in the grocery store.
Companion Planting Corn and “The Three Sisters” Native American Folklore
Corn does well when planted in hills, with 18 inches between each hill. According to native American tradition, the three sisters method of planting corn, squash and beans will benefit all three plants. The companion planting of the crops is done by placing them together in the same hill.
Three to four stalks of corn are placed in a hill. Some folklore suggests a small fish was placed in each hill prior to planting probably because of corn’s high nitrogen requirements. Fishmeal is commonly used today for crops requiring a lot of nitrogen.
On the hill, but surrounding the corn, grow 3 – 4 bean plants. The beans welcome the corn stalk to climb and it is believed that the beans help stabilize the corn and keep the stalks from blowing over. Corn needs a lot of nitrogen and beans release nitrogen into the soil at their roots.
Around the perimeter of the hill, plant 2 squash plants. The squash provides ground shade, keeping the ground from drying out and acting as a natural mulch on the hill. Finally, the squash is said to discourage garden pests from bothering the corn and beans.
Heirloom Corn Seed
Organic heirloom seeds carry on the traditional varieties of crops. Another benefit to purchasing organic heirloom corn seed is to avoid the ever-growing number of genetically modified seeds on the market. Golden Bantam is a tasty yellow variety. Bloody Butcher is a red variety of corn that dates back to 1845.