Corn Growing For Beginners: Kernel by Kernel

Have extra space around your own garden or farm? Why not grow some corn of your own. It would be very useful in the kitchen, you can cook many things with it – animal feed, salads, etc.  Another advantage of having your own corn would be its long shelf-life. Follow our tips closely and you’ll successfully grow yourself some corn. 

What type of corn should I grow?

Here are a few types of corn: 

Sweet Corn

Most of us are familiar with this type of corn for it is mostly used as a typical food source. As the name suggests, it has a sweet taste and can be eaten straight off the cob.

It comes in an array of colors such as yellow, bi-color and even white. 

Below is a list for you to look out for:

Golden Bantam: 

Sprouts in cool soil in the early season. Grows up to five feet tall but bears corn very fast. 

Jubilee Hybrid:

It has large ears that can grow up to nine inches long and has bright yellow kernels. Its kernels are sweet and can be preserved without much fuss. 

Ambrosia Hybrid: 

Very sweet and plump.

Honey Select Hybrid: 

It is extremely sweet with a rich flavor and grows up to six feet in height. 


This is the type of corn you find in your snacks packed in microwavable bags at convenience stores. 

Below is a list for you to look out for:

Glass Gem: 

if you want something with a ‘wow’ factor, this is the corn for you. It is multicolored with hues of blue, yellow, red and even more. 

Snow Puff: 

perfect snack for your movie nights. They are sweet and pop to large sizes with thin hulls.


Yes, this is edible too! Growing up to four to five inches long in terms of ears, it has a sweet taste. Other functions include: for decorations.

Heirloom Strawberry: 

Grows mini ears of two to three inches long and has ruby red kernels. Time taken for this to grow is 100 days. 

Flour Corn

Used to make cornmeal which can be turned into other scrumptious food such as cornbread and many other corn-based meals. 

Below is a list for you to look out for:

Candy Red:

Stalks grow up to eight feet tall with large ears. Can be dried and grounded into cornmeal. 

Floriani Red: 

It has medium red kernels and when used to make cornmeal, it comes out a nice pinkish color. 

Growing Corn

Now that you know the different types of corn, it is time for the important part: how to grow them. Number one rule: ensure that you have good soil. Corn will grow in zones four to eight.

Amount of Sunlight needed: 

You will need a lot of bright but not direct sunlight. The corns are better able to adapt to low light compared to direct sunlight. So choose a spot that has sunlight all through the day while making sure that there are a few trees around to shade it as well. Your corn also needs to get at least ten hours of sun every day. Eight hours would be the minimum however your yield might be affected. 

Type of soil: 

Corn grows best in soil that has been fertilized with aged manure or compost the fall before planting. After this, your corn can be left to grow over the winter. Another method would be to work the corn in spring as well. 

The addition of compost increases drainage in the soil. This is good because corn cannot take too much water. Your soil should have a PH level of six to seven, be well-drained, deep fertile and supplemented with one to two inches of compost before planting

When is the best time to plant corn?

Do not take too long to start planting. Corns take a long time to grow. Two weeks after your frost date, plant them quickly for the best results. As mentioned earlier, corn cannot take too much water. The temperature of your soil should be above 60°F in order for germination to occur. 

Plantation of corn in the garden tips:

  • Ensure the soil is warm enough – 60°F for germination. 
  • Take a black plastic cloth and spread it over the soil if it is not warm enough.
  • Never start growing your corn seeds indoors. This is because the act of uprooting it would affect its roots during the transferring process into the soil

Spacing needed:

  • 30- 36 inches apart
  • One and a half to two inches deep, four to six inches apart 
  • Using a tractor or a hoe (for smaller areas), drop the seeds and using loose dirt, cover them up. 
  • Avoid planting different types of corn too closely. If they are too close, they will begin to cross-pollinate. You might get corn that is inedible. 

When to Harvest and how to store corn?

It is very easy to decipher whether or not it is time for harvest. This is because you would be able to see that the tassels on the stalks have changed their color to brown while the cobs begin to grow bigger. When this happens, it is an indication that the kernels are full and milky. 

To harvest them, remove the ears of corn by pulling them downwards and twisting them off the stalk. Do not use too much strength, you might break it. Look out for a loose lead and then pull the corn straight towards you in a downwards motion. As for the silky hairs around the corn, use a toothbrush and scrub them out gently. 

Once you are done, they are ready to be eaten straight away. 

Problems you might face while growing corn

Like all crops, you are bound to find yourself in some sticky situation. No worries, some of these problems can be fixed easily. 

Corn Smut

This problem starts when there is a fungal disease in the soil. Gray or white spots on the ears of the corn will be seen. To fix this, make sure that your corn is spaced out properly. Crops should also be done in a rotational manner throughout the years. In doing so, fresh soil is given to the plants to grow, allowing the fungus to die off before another crop is planted in the same position once more. 


Noticeable red or orange spots on the leaves of the corn. However, not much to worry, it can self correct itself. Once the plant has matured, the rust will fade off. 

Seed Rot Disease

This disease is caused by a fungus that grows in the soil. To ensure that you do not have to face this problem, remember not to plant your seeds too early. Ensure that the ground is at 60°F first. 

Root Rot

Rotting begins at the root and then moves upwards to your corn. To solve this, water your plants with a soaker hose. The hose will then keep dirt away from being splashed onto the plant. 

Stewart’s Wilt

Caused by flea beetles, you can fix this issue by rotating your crops. In doing so, it makes sure that the flea beetles are controlled and do not come back. Additionally, add some wood ash around your garden to prevent the flea beetles from coming. 

Southern Corn Leaf Blight

This problem causes discoloration in the plants – mainly in the leaves and ears of the corn. 

Solution: pull it out and throw the infected plants away. Rotate the type of crops you grow yearly to stop the disease from continuing. 

What else can be grown together with corn?

The height to which the corn usually grows allows there to be space for other plants to grow as well. Such crops include beans, cucumbers, potatoes, pumpkin.

However, not all plants can be grown in the same area as corn. This is especially so for tomatoes. This is because both the tomato and corn attract the same type of worms that eventually kill both plants.  

With all this information now at your fingertips, we wish you all the best in your corn growing journey! Many you have a good yield and a happy tummy!


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