Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Ornamental grasses’ so on trend and here’s one with a twist

Sweet corn’s not your commonest greenhouse crop

Sweet corn’s not your commonest greenhouse crop but one that benefits hugely, and has imposing foliage. Now the sweetness is the essence of good sweet corn, and is continually reducing from the moment the cob’s picked. If you’ve grown your own you’ll know, cobs from shops or even roadside stalls are never ever as sweet. Once picked sugar is converted to stodgy starch at an alarming rate.

So obviously you’ll get sweeter cobs growing your own, and by choosing newer sweeter varieties. However it takes about 3 months for sweet corn to mature, even the fastest sorts. As sweet corn’s too tender to sow directly outside till late spring this means cobs are ripening late summer when sunlight and day length are already reducing. So cobs cannot gain maximum sweetness and really would be better ripening earlier when the sun’s stronger.

A couple of weeks can be gained using cloches. Though the usual plan with tender crops of starting off under cover and planting out seldom works well as Sweet corn really does not like root disturbance invariably performing poorly afterwards.

Ideally it’s sown where it is to grow. So a cunning way to get the best sweetest cobs ever is to grow sweet corn under cover, sowing a month or more earlier in March, so cobs are ripening earlier when the sun is fiercest in June and early July.

These make bold decorative plants

Each plant needs a bucket sized tub or bigger, though three can be grown in a generous half barrel. Use rich compost and sow several seeds thinning to the best. From then on never stop watering and feeding, fortunately pests are seldom a problem.

These make bold decorative plants, after all ornamental grasses are on trend, and their height will get many to think you’re growing Sugar cane!

The only wrinkle you may want is to save pollen from the male tassels that come out the top, shake this into an envelope and dust onto the female ‘silks’ issuing from the young cobs lower down which will be coming out later. Those silks will wither as the cobs swell. You can tell when cobs are ready as soon as a kernel oozes a thick cream not a thin sap when depressed with a thumbnail.

Enjoy, for sure you now have The Sweetest sweet corn ever.