I have never grown corn before. I think it is because I just never seemed to have the room for corn in the garden and it is readily available at farm stands and farmers markets. However, this year a package of Silver Queen Corn seeds arrived in a delivery of Mike the Gardener's Seeds of the Month Club. So I decided to give it a try.
|Silver Queen Corn|
I began with some research and learned that corn germinates best in soil that's warmer than 60°F. Corn seed sown in cool and moist soil is also susceptible to fungal disease. I also learned that starting corn seeds early inside is a challenge because it grows a long taproot and doesn't transplant well unless root disturbance is minimized.
I laid some corn seeds on a wet paper towel on May 10th to pre-sprout while I thought about how to proceed. At the time, our nights were still in the 40s and the 2-inch soil blocks I use for other transplants would not have capacity for a long taproot. But I knew that the corn plants would benefit from getting a head start. Hmmm....
Within 24-hours the corn seed began to sprout! Whoops! I thought I would have several days to mull over my decision. Now I had to act fast and get these seeds into some growing medium. I spotted an empty toilet tissue roll and thought this would be just the right size.
I didn't have enough tissue rolls to plant in, but I used it to quickly make up some newspaper pots and planted the pre-sprouted corn seeds:
|Making Newspaper Pots|
Within a couple days they were popping up out of the soil and were placed under the lights:
I began hardening them off. Days were warm, but nights were still in the 40s°F so the corn seedlings were shuffled inside each evening. Soon the temperatures increased and they were spending nights outside with the other seedlings.
On May 24th, the corn seedlings were transplanted into the garden. The roots were just beginning to break through the bottom of the newspaper pots.
|Corn's Taproot Just Breaking Through the Newspaper Pot|
I gently removed the extra paper on the bottom and top of the pots. The newspaper would break down eventually, but I didn't want to restrict the roots in any way.
|Extra Newspaper Removed from Top and Bottom of the Pot|
24-corn transplant were block planted in one of the square foot gardens in front of the peas.
Unfortunately, one was lost the first night to cutworm (I think). The rest are still standing tall. Hopefully I was able to give them a head start. We will see how they do.