Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening (Detail Steps)

By: On:

Corn is a cereal grain that is also known as Maize. Most of us have commonly consumed the kind of corn being the normal corn, sweet corn, baby corn, and other extracts from the plants. They are a very popular vegetable that is consumed across the globe. They are very tasty and are rich in fiber together with vitamins and minerals in them. When you grow corn at home it just tastes so much better that you will absolutely not want to purchase them from the market anymore rather you would prefer homegrown corn. Hence for this, you can try out the method to grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening.

Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening
Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening

They grow as leafy stalks from the plant and contain kernels and seeds that are fruits and are consumed. The leafy parts are not consumed however it just acts as a covering of the fruit. 

There are many ways you can consume this amazing vegetable that can be by simply boiling and having as snacks, by baking them, by adding them to salads, vegetables, pasta, or even just by cooking them on pans or stove. Here in this segment let us talk about growing corn and that too specifically how to grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening.

What is Square Foot Gardening?

This is a technique that makes gardening productive and efficient in small spaces. It was developed by Mel Bartholomew who was a retired engineer and also an expert in backyard gardening with efficiency experts who gave us a better way to do vegetable gardening from the traditional ways.

He published a book named “Square Foot Gardening” in 1981 and that is the first time that he introduced this idea about Square foot gardening with the public.

How do you do Square Foot Gardening?

Square Foot Gardening means you can take a garden bed that could be 4 feet by 4 feet or even 4 feet by 8 feet commonly or any size for that matter, and what you do is divide this bed in grids of the size of 1 feet squares with some sort of divider.

You can now use these grids to grow either the same variety of vegetables or grow different vegetables in each grid or just grow some common vegetables in few grids and different in others, whatever suits you best depending upon how you would like to arrange it and what you would want to grow and in what the quantities.

When you choose the seeds or the seedlings that you are planting in each grid the idea is each grid is assigned for a single kind of vegetable. While doing this you must know the density of the size of the plant you are wanting to grow.

For eg. If you are growing radishes in one grid, you can sow up to 16 seeds per square but if you are growing tomatoes you should plant just one plant in 1 square grid

There is also an updated version of this technique that Mel Bartholomew updated in his book 20 years later. It says that alternatively you can also make frames or raised beds of about 6 inches deep and these can be filled up with peat moss, vermiculture, and compost as that will be of a much richer quality than the basic garden soil

How to Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening?

Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening
Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening

Now that we understand what is square foot gardening we must realize that this technique was developed to make gardening easy for gardeners also thereby increasing efficiency. Therefore if you are a home gardener or a beginner in gardening too this can be a very effective way to use up the limited space issues and turn it into an effective gardening area. 

When we grow corn it is generally planted 4 to 6 inches apart in rows that are 30 to 36 inches apart that would mean you need a large space for growing corn. Square foot gardening gives you the efficiency to grow lots more corn plants in smaller spaces.

Let us see how we can grow Corn in square foot gardening technique.

#1 Temperature Requirement for Growing corn

Depending upon the zone of America that you live in you must choose the best time to grow corn but generally, you can grow corn from 15th May to 10th June. This is because corn prefers a warm temperature and if you plant corn seeds in cold soil there are chances the seeds might rot and die.

Therefore it is preferred to plant the seeds of corn when the temperature is warm ideally 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees celsius. If the temperature gets warmer that would be better but it should not go lower than that as it may adversely affect the growth.

If the cold spring season is unusual during this time in your location and it is not warm yet outside, you can start with the seeds in trays indoors as the warm temperature inside can make the conditions ideal for their germination.

#2 Preparing Soil to grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening

For square foot gardening corn, it is absolutely essential that you use rich quality soil that is healthy and can promote the healthy growth of the plants. You should use a soil mix of peat moss, coarse vermiculture, and blended compost in equal ratios in your 6 inch deep square feet garden. 

You can buy all the three things from the market locally or online and you can also make your blended compost at home out of kitchen waste and some waste wood chips and mix them with some worm compost. 

Healthy soil is absolutely crucial for the success of your square foot gardening. You can use mulch with wood chips to make your soil mix too. You won’t need additional chemical fertilizers as the moisture in this mix will help in providing the plant with nutrients.

If still you feel the need to add something to the plants you can make compost tea for them that can act as a natural and effective fertilizer. 

For making a compost tea you must put the compost into a nylon cloth and place it in warm water. This makes the nutrients come inside the water which becomes compost tea. You can add this water at the base of the plants when the water cools down.

#3 Growing corn from Seeds 

The plant grows through pollination and the corn plant has a part where the pollen is made that is called the tassel and the part that receives the pollen called silk. The silk part of the plant when receiving the pollen becomes the seeds or the kernel of the corn and if the silk does not get pollinated it doesn’t bear kernels or seeds.

This process happens from the bottom-most part of the silk that is attached to the cob of the corn and it grows upwards to the ear of the corn where we generally see lesser kernels. 

The tassel starts shedding the pollen two to three days before the silk starts forming. The tassel sheds pollen till 5 to 8 days and the silk receives the pollen till 10 days and is no more receptive after that period. The silk of one stalk is rarely pollinated by the tassel of the same stalk. 

Later on when the silk gets pollinated and the baby kernel starts forming. The silk part starts leaving the kernels and gradually turns brown and dry. This way the plants keep getting pollinated and keep growing. To start with you must sow the seed of corn 1 inch deep into the soil. 

Planting Process to Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening

For planting corn in Square foot gardening you can prepare the garden bed in the form of grids or you buy or make grid frames as discussed earlier and use them to plant the plants in it. This will make the process faster and efficient.

You need to make your planting holes in proper spaces to make efficient use of grids. You may use planting dibbers to create holes for planting. 

Spacing corn plants for square foot gardening

You can plant the corn 4 inches apart and this will give you 9 plants per grid. So you can make the holes in the ground for planting either by measuring the distance or you can also make wooden frames with the distance already marked and framed out according to the grids.

This will save you lots of time if you plan to keep planting as you will not need to measure the spaces all the time you start with square foot gardening corn, you can just use the plank or frame and start making holes in the soil for planting the seeds right away. 

Preparing soil 

If you are doing the square foot gardening directly on the garden bed then make sure the soil is free from weeds that may be growing under the mulch so if there are any weeds pull them out and make sure the soil is rich since corn is a heavy feeder and you should add rich organic compost and organic fertilizers for enhancing the quality of the soil.

Since corn are heavy feeders and they need spacing to grow, you must ensure that the soil is rich and able to provide all the nutrient requirements of the plants to make them grow to their full potential in square foot gardening.

So you should use a mixture with equal quantities of peat moss, vermiculture, and compost for best results in square foot gardening as explained earlier.

Planting process

To start with you should mark the area where you want to plant the seeds and make holes for sowing the seeds accordingly. So for that, you can measure the area and dig little holes 4 inches apart by measurement or if you have any frame that can help in making such holes, you can use them too.

The idea is to create a good spacing arrangement so that you utilize the whole area and the plants are provided enough space to grow as well. Therefore it is ideal to plant corn seeds 4 inches apart and dig the holes 1 inch deep in the soil to sow the seeds an inch deep. 

Seeds

Once the corn seeds are sown you can cover the seeds with soil. For cross-pollination between the corn plants, plant them in blocks and since you are using square foot gardening it can promote cross-pollination among the corn plants.

Watering of the corn plants

Gently water the soil after sowing the seeds. Make sure that you water the plants every week up to an inch and that should be sufficient for the water requirements of the plant. If there is a deficiency of water during the pollination phase that may result in lesser kernels around the ears.

Also, you must water the plants on the surface level by drip irrigation and not by watering from the top part of the plant as it can wash off the pollen.

Sun and temperature 

For good growth, the corn plants need warm temperatures and a good sunny patch. Don’t grow corn in frosty conditions as it will kill the crop. The temperature should not fall below 65 degrees as it can damage the crops.

Also, allow the plants to receive ample amounts of sunlight to help in its growth. Sunlight of at least 6 hours can help the plants to grow well.

Fertilizers 

When the stalks start growing and become 6 inches tall you should side dress them and you can use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer mix and sprinkle around the edges with water since the corn needs nitrogen to grow well and to produce its ears. 

Pruning

You don’t need to cut off the side shoots and suckers that you may see in order to prune the plant. They will not damage the plant in fact if you cut them off that might cause the roots to get damaged. 

Harvesting 

When the silk part of the corn turns brown and dry they get ready to be harvested and picked up. Also, you can pull back the husk part of the corn and check the corn kernels by pricking them simply by your fingernails and if they start to drip out some milky color substance they are ready for harvesting.

For harvesting, you just need to hold the corn cob and twist it down from the corn stalk and you have it. They taste the best when you consume them within 10 minutes of harvesting.

How much corn can you plant in a square foot?

Planting Process to Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening

In square foot gardening, you can sow the corn seeds up to 4 inches apart in rows. That will give you about 9 corn plants per square. You must decide on the number of products that you require in a season.

And then you can decide for the number of grids you would like to a lot for growing corn in square feet and plan accordingly since 1 square foot will give you 9 plants you can multiply the number of grids as per your requirements.

How can I make my corn grow faster?

In order to help in the fast growth of corn, we could take care of a few things. Firstly we should decide the best time to grow corn depending on our location in America. They thrive in warm temperatures and die in cold temperatures and frosts. So to make your corn grow faster you must see the soil is warm and the crop gets enough arm temperatures. 

Secondly, make sure the plant is getting ample sunlight of at least 6 hours per day for good growth of the plant. Thirdly make sure the soil is rich in compost, vermiculture, peat moss, and other nutrients since they are heavy feeders. 

You can use organic fertilizers like compost tea and also nitrogen-rich fertilizers when the plant starts growing. Fourthly you should make sure that the plant is not under water stress and they are getting at least an inch of water per week.

Also, make sure you don’t overwater it as it may cause waterlogging leading in damaging the plant. So there are a few things that if you keep in mind you can do to make your corn grow faster. 

How often should corn be watered?

The water requirement of corn plants is such that you need to water at least an inch of water every week. They grow well when they are given proper watering especially during the time period when the tassel part of the plant starts to pollinate.

The plant should not undergo water stress since the plant will not grow kernels on the ears and it will lead to lots of missing kernels from the cob. So it is advised to water the plant properly. 

Also, make sure that you don’t water the plant from the top part or that you don’t spray water as well from the top because it will hinder pollination. Instead water from the ground surface layer by using drip irrigation or even u can use a soaker hose.

Also, don’t overwater the plant as it can damage the roots by waterlogging the soil.

What is the best fertilizer for corn?

Corns are heavy feeders and they need rich good quality soil for its growth. To meet the fertilizer requirement of the plant you must use a soil mix having equal parts of peat moss, compost, and vermiculture. It is ideal if you take them in the ratio of 1:1:1.

You can also make compost tea by dipping the compost wrapped up in a nylon cloth in warm water for some time and using this tea when the water cools down.

Together with that, you should also use fertilizers to meet the feeding requirements. They require potassium, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus for good growth of the plant. Some of the nutrients like potassium and magnesium are already present in the soil where the plants can draw from.

So when the plant starts to grow we should side dress them and use all-purpose fertilizers that are nitrogen and potassium-rich to help the plant grow to its full potential and sprinkle them along the edges of the plant.

Does corn need a lot of sunlight?

Corns are warm-weather plants. You must decide on the time of growing these plants when the temperature of the zone of America that you live in starts experiencing a warm temperature after the cold spring goes.

The corn plants hate the cold temperature and especially frosts. If the temperature drops and frosts hit the ground they tend to die. Therefore it is recommended that you must sow the seeds when the soil gets warm and they need an ample amount of sunlight that is at least 6 hours of sun per day.

So make sure that the place where you grow your corn gets a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day.

You may check the following gardening tips:

Final Thoughts

Corn is a staple food in many places and together with being tasty are also versatile in the way you can consume them and also growing corn is easy. Square feet gardening in the form of gardening technique in which one can grow crops effectively and efficiently in small patches of soil. It can be done on garden beds by dividing them into grids and they can also be done by taking wooden frames 6 inches deep of about one square foot and planting the corn in it.

To grow corn in square foot gardening method is easy and super effective. You can grow 9 corn in a single grid by growing them 4 inches apart. Square foot gardening means the soil should be rich and make sure you have taken a good soil mix like peat moss, vermiculture, and compost in equal amounts.

By taking care of the spacing, temperature, sunlight, water, fertilizer, and weeding requirements you can enjoy tasty and healthy homegrown corn. By adopting a few measures you can ensure your corn grows faster and better. It’s best if you consume corn within 10 mins of harvesting for the best taste. I hope you have an amazing corn harvest this year with this grow corn in square foot gardening tips.

Leave a Comment