Growing sweet corn in Perth is a must for anyone with the space to do so in their backyard. Corn is one of those veggies that just tastes so much better if you grow it yourself! It just seems to be sweeter than if you buy it at the supermarket. You need a fair amount of space to grow corn, because it’s wind pollinated so you need a decent amount of plants to get a high enough pollination rate. Originating in South America and thrives in the hot, dry Western Australian summers.
A much loved vegetable of children and adults alike, sweet corn is perfect for summer BBQ’s , served steamed with butter or a light sear on the BBQ hot plate…..yum. The best thing about growing corn in Perth is that it’s super easy.
Corn likes warm to hot conditions and can be grown in all parts of Australia when conditions are favourable. Daytime temperatures need to be consistently above 15°C for planting your corn which is ideal for Perth. Spring and summer are the best seasons for planting in most parts of Western Australia. You can plant all year round in tropical areas of the state.
How to plant sweet corn?
Sweet corn can be planted from late spring until early autumn throughout Western Australia and all year round in the tropics. Sweet corn can be purchased as seed or seedlings which come in a limited range. It is important to bear in mind that only one variety of corn should be cultivated in the garden at any one time as cross-pollination can adversely affect the quality of your crop.
It’s all about position, when it comes to planting sweet corn! They need full sun, no exceptions, and must have protection from strong winds. Sweet corn will do best when planted in a block style formation. This encourages better cross-pollination, which means more corn for you! Blocks of a dozen or more plants, grown at three-monthly intervals should provide a continual supply of food for the average family of four. The more corn you can fit in the better, and remember to allow about 40 – 50cm between plants.
Don’t fret about losing all your garden space, sweet corn are quite happy to be under planted once they grow up a bit. Try climbing beans or cucumbers… they are excellent companions. This will help you maximise the vegetable yield from your planting area.
Sweet corn varieties:
Sweet Corn Early Extra Sweet F1 – This early corn-on-the-cob has an unbeatably sweet flavour, but should not be grown near other varieties of Sweet Corn as cross pollination may impair its taste. The cobs are large and pale golden.
Sweet Corn Kelvedon Glory F1 – An early cropping and very reliable variety which produces long, even cobs. The taste is exceptionally good and, as with all Sweet Corn, the sooner you eat them after harvest, the better the taste. Grow in a sunny position, sheltered from the wind, ideally on a well drained soil which has been enriched with peat, or well-rotted manure or compost.
Sweet Corn Snow Gold Bicolour F1 – This fine super sweet corn produces medium to large sized cobs with bicolour kernels. An early to mid season variety with sweet flavour which holds well on the plant. Grow in a sunny position, sheltered from the wind on a well-drained soil, ideally enriched with well-rotted manure or compost.
Sweet Corn Terrific F1 – Early cropping and terrific taste.
Growing corn in pots:
Corn can be grown in a large pots but is not a practical choice for growing because pollination requires several plants. Plant 5 or 6 seeds in 20 litre pot.
How to harvest corn?
Corn requires from 60 to 100 days to reach harvest depending on the variety and weather conditions. Corn is ready for harvest when ears turn dark green, silks turn brown, and kernels are soft and plump. To test whether the corn is ready to eat, peel back a small section of the casing and break open a kernel with your fingernail. If the liquid that comes out is clear the corn is not ripe; if it is milky it can be harvested immediately. Pick corn by grabbing the ear and giving it a sharp downward twist. Each stalk of corn will produce one or perhaps two harvestable ears of corn at most. Harvest should be about 20 days after the silks appear. Harvest corn in the morning and plunge ears immediately into cold water to preserve their sweetness.
Corn diseases and common problems:
Watch for aphids, borers and caterpillars. Spray with pyrethrum if the infestation is bad. Birds, and rodents can also attack the corn as it begins to ripen. If necessary, protect the cobs with individual bags so that you get to enjoy the product of your hard work.
Corn, once harvested, goes downhill pretty quickly and rapidly losses flavour. The best way to enjoy sweet corn is really fresh. If you can’t eat all the fresh corn then the best approach is to blanch the corn and then freeze it. Don’t put salt in the cooking water. It converts the sweet corn sugars into starch.
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