What would the world be without corn? Its uses range from food for humans and livestock, ethanol, corn syrup, bio-based plastics and settings for horror movies. Considered the most significant crop in the US, it’s also the most versatile and used crop in the world. Native to North America, this multipurpose cob is not found in the wild, so care and commitment are key to a successful crop
Growing Those Rows - How Long Does Corn Take to Grow?
First plan out your space to grow. You’ll need a sunny, well drained area. Corn will flourish when planted in blocks of short rows, 4-6 inches apart and 30-36 inches between rows. Corn uses the wind to pollinate so open blocky crop space gives better circulation than a long single row. If your crop is small enough, it can be helpful to walk among the rows, moving between those corn tassels can help that pollination along.
There are many different varieties of corn, but the most popular to eat is sweet corn. There are early and late season varieties, so depending on what you have you can have corn earlier in the season or have your crops take most of the season to mature those delicious ears.
Once you got your space planned out, wait two weeks after the last spring frost. Warmer soil is crucial for germination. Sweet corn loves to sprout around 60-65°. In colder regions, black weed-block can serve as a ground warmer to help your planting along faster. Mix in some aged compost in the soil and plant those kernels 1 inch deep. It needs to be well drained soil but also retain proper moisture, so make sure to water those nuggets when planting, and keep them well watered. Make sure to thin them when they get to be around 3-4 inches tall. Do this by cutting them off, instead of pulling. That way you won’t disturb the roots.
One interesting way of growing corn is Companion Planting. It’s a wonderful way that helps maintain the ecosystem of your gardens, producing healthy tasty vegetables. Corn is one important staple of food in the Native American community. The Three Sisters was an agricultural tradition of growing corn, beans and squash together, creating a symbiotic relationship. The towering corn stalks are perfect for the climbing beans and the squash plants low foliage help retain moisture in the soil, while their large prickly palms help keep pests away. The beans also provide nitrogen to the other plants, bumping up the chlorophyll to get a big, green and healthy garden.
Depending on the variety of corn, it may take anywhere between 60 to 100 days for the corn to mature and be ready for harvesting.
Corn Harvest Time
Now it’s time to reap the tasty rewards from all your hard work. When those tassels start to get that toasty brown color and your cob is engorged with all those milky kernels. Pluck those ears by pulling downward and twisting. Sweet corn should be eaten shortly after harvested to get the maximum flavor.
The Benefits of Corn
Eating sweet corn in the summer is by far one of my most favorite summertime foods. But most would not think that there’s any health benefits considering it's practically intact exit, after eating it. Not true. Considered a starchy vegetable that’s higher in carbs and sugar, it is also abundant in vitamin C. Its golden color also offers the power of a carotenoid called lutein, which is great for healthy eyes.
This starchy veggie is also an insoluble fiber, thus making it hard to digest. But the body can absorb the other nutrients it has to offer if you chew those nuggets well, lending a hand to the digestive system.
Corn became a prominent agricultural food 10,000 years ago in Southern Mexico. The Aztecs held this plant in high esteem due to the variety of foods you could make out of it, but it was also the belief of how it was given to them that gave the plant its lofty place in society. It was said that the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatle obtained the plant from an unreachable mountain, offering it to the Aztec people. With this priceless gift from the god, they grew and treasured the plant. And with this they gained power, expanding their empire.
Throughout the world it is also used in multiple religious ceremonies as offerings to deities and to celebrate the changing of seasons.
Where do we go from here?
Over thousands of years the corn plant has had to evolve due to changing environments. It has become a valuable commodity to the world, and our dependency on it has given way to new techniques to cultivate it. But as the climate changes, our relationship with this plant we rely on so much, is threatened. I can only imagine where this plant will take us next with its uses. Time will only tell.