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Growing Your Own Sweetcorn 🌽

Sweetcorn or maize is a staple here in Ireland for feeding livestock and also as a tasty treat for us humans. It grows incredibly well here and depending on the variety you plant it can be used from anything from silage making to home cooking.

The variety we plant for home consumption is only slightly different from the variety we use for livestock and the main difference is that the one we use at home has less starch and more sugar. This also gives a more pleasant, tender consistency to the kernels. 

Planting Sweetcorn could not me more simple and now is the time of year to get it in the ground. 

Firstly choose which variety you wish to grow. A few strong examples would be; Unwins Moonshine F1, Unwins Goldcrest F1, or Seeds Irelands Golden Bantam Organic. There are a multitude to choose from and all have only slight differences in regarding size and taste so if you like you can try getting a couple of different varieties and seeing which one does better where you are. 

Prepare a seedling tray with pots using any good potting compost such as Gro-Sure Seed & Cutting Compost and place one seed per pot at about 2 cm depth and cover over. 

Your seedlings will have to be kept either in a greenhouse  or on a sunny windowsill as they do like a bit of warmth to start off with. 

Once you have them potted, keep them dampened but not soaked by gently watering them every couple of days. 

They will grow quite quickly once sprouted and should get to about 8-10cm by June if they are planted now. We can then think about putting them outside. 

Try and choose a sunny spot as they are absolute sun worshipers and will not do well in a very shaded area.

They should be placed in groups around 40cm apart, the reason for this is that when planting just a few they need to be able to 'wind' pollinate and so will find it easier to do so in groups rather than lines. 

Once you have them in situ Sweetcorn is actually a fairly low maintenance crop. They simply need you to keep on top of any weeds that might sprout up beside them and give them a little water if they are looking tired. They will need a little extra water when the cobs are growing but that's about it. 

They will grow quite tall but as they are actually part of the grass family they don't need any external support. 

You will know they are ready for harvest when the fully formed cobs 'hair' or 'silk' sprouting out the top begins to look a little grubby. Each plant should produce between 2-3 heads of corn. 

Harvest only what you intend to eat on the day as they are at their sweetest when freshly picked. This is due to the sugars quickly converting to starch.

There is nothing quite like the taste of your own freshly harvested sweetcorn and you definitely will not find anything like it in the supermarket, so get sowing those seeds! :)