Fresh corn in a garden.

How to Plant Corn in Your Garden

Corn is a tender plant that is easily damaged by cold weather. Sow it indoors in mid-spring, and only plant it out after the danger of frost has passed—late spring at the earliest, depending on where you live.

When to start: Mid- to late spring.

At their best: Late summer.

Time to complete: A few hours over several weeks.

You will need: Corn seeds, compost, small pots for sowing, seed labels, string, ruler.

How to sow

Corn will be ready for planting out about six weeks after sowing indoors in pots. Clear all weeds from the soil and dig it over thoroughly. Plant out in square blocks—which aids pollination—spacing plants 14 in (35 cm) apart. You can also sow direct from late spring onward, but sow two seeds per station in case one of them fails to grow.

Test for ripeness

Once the tassels turn brown, test regularly for ripeness. Press a nail into a kernel—if a milky liquid comes out, it is ready; if watery, it is under-ripe; but if doughy, the corn has passed its best.

Harvesting the cobs

Pick the cobs by twisting them off, only when you are ready to eat them; their natural sugars quickly turn starchy once picked. Corn is delicious wrapped in foil and grilled on a barbecue.

Tips: Intercropping

Try growing other crops among your corn, because its foliage lets lots of light through to the ground. Use quick maturing crops such as lettuces, or corn’s traditional intercropping partners, winter squash and pumpkin.