Growing corn on the cob

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armstrom
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Growing corn on the cob

Postby armstrom » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:21 pm

Hello. A colleague of mine has been looking forward all summer to a crop of big, fat, juicy corn on the cob - the current status is a brace of underachieveing, weedy looking, hairy stumps. She lives in Brentwood in Essex - the corn has been in full sun all summer long. Why doesn't she have the corn she desired? Could it be the wet weather we've had in August or something else?

Thanks,
Mike
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Nature's Babe » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:29 pm

Did they plant in a row or in a block ? A block is required because they are wind pollinated. Also what is the soil like, they are quite heavy feeders.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby armstrom » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:52 pm

Growing in these:

http://www.veg-tableltd.com/

filled with regular compost - but they weren't fed.

The plants are only about 3 feet high, so sounds like they have been under nurished.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby armstrom » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:52 pm

P.S. they were planted in blocks.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby alan refail » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:53 pm

Hi Armstrom

I take it that by "a brace" you mean two plants. If so, that's not really enough for wind pollination. As NB says, you need a block of plants for that. In any case two plants would not produce much of a crop - 4 to 6 cobs at the most.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby armstrom » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:55 pm

I thought it was 2, but my colleague corrected me - she planted 6 in a block.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Nature's Babe » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:50 pm

Yes, six one, in the middle and five around it is the minimum for pollination, more is preferable, thtee ft is short,it might be lack of nourishment, and might not be enough root depth ? Also on hot days the roots might have baked in a container.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby armstrom » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:59 pm

Yep - the conditions don't sound good at all. She'd be better of growing herbs or even tomatoes in something as shallow as that. Thanks NB
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Mike Vogel » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:44 pm

There is a thread somewhere in which somebody - was it Colin? - suggested sowing a batch of sweetcorn about 3 weeks after the main batch. This is because the male and female bits of the plant don't mature at the same time, and so you will get pollination by staggering your sowing.

After a dodgy start [see page 2 of the topisc list "Germinating sweetcorn"] I have managed to get about 15 plants with 2 cobs each apparently filling out as they should, though who knows what I'll eventually find when I peal back the coverings. The rain we've been having will do them a lot of good too, i hope. The plants are shallow-rooted and need water; I planted them in shallow holes about 2 inches below the surface, so the water i gave them pooled around the roots.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Nature's Babe » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:37 pm

They claim sweetcorn variety seville copes better with cold nights, but I haven't tried it yet. Another trick to promote a good crop and maximise space is tp grow sweetcorn beans and squash together. wait till the sweetcorn is 12 inches tall to plant out the bean seeds and squash. The beans help stabilise the sweetcorn which support the beans, and the squash act as a live mulch and help prevent evaporation and suppress weeds, the beans add nitrogen
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby alan refail » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:07 am

Nature's Babe wrote: Another trick to promote a good crop and maximise space is tp grow sweetcorn beans and squash together. wait till the sweetcorn is 12 inches tall to plant out the bean seeds and squash. The beans help stabilise the sweetcorn which support the beans, and the squash act as a live mulch and help prevent evaporation and suppress weeds, the beans add nitrogen


Hi NB

Have you tried growing the "Three Sisters"?

The method is an inaccurate adaptation of a North American Indian agricultural practice which no-one I have spoken to who has tried it has found successful (myself included). I certainly would not recommend it.

Have a look at these previous threads on the subject:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7039

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3271
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Tony Hague » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:51 am

As I've said in one of the earlier threads, this method is suitable when the beans and corn are types grown for drying, so you can harvest them all together. Otherwise you break the beans trying to get the sweetcorn cobs off.

I have success with combinations of squash/sweetcorn, and squash/beans (with canes), but beans and corn together doesn't work well.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Johnboy » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:21 am

The Three Sisters method of growing is really doomed to failure from the start for the simple reason that you have three plants the are nutritionally hungry and what you actually end up with is three mediocre crops if you even manage that.
I suspect that if the Squash(es) were a trailing variety then they could be grown in an adjoining bed and the trails trained to go through the Sweet Corn but where Beans are concerned to trail one cropping plant up another cropping plant spells disaster in my mind.
I suspect that this is another urban myth where theory is presented as fact because to somebody new to gardening it might sound a very good idea especially if they are short of growing space. I suspect that those who have been growing for a considerable time would simply not entertain it.
As is mentioned so far, the method has been discussed several times and to date nobody has spoken out that they have succeeded and had great crops. I therefore draw the conclusion that it really is something not to be entertained.
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby alan refail » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:52 am

Hi Johnboy

There is a good degree of misinformation coming from Mr Shirley

http://www.victoriananursery.co.uk/vege ... d_seville/

To take an extract, there are a number of bits of misinformation to my mind:
The sweetcorn provides a natural support for the beans whilst the beans help to stabilise the corn plants, making them less vunerable to blowing over in the wind. The shallow rooted squash plants become a living mulch, smothering emerging weeds and reducing water evaporation from the soil - thus improving the overall crops' chances of survival in dry years. The beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the fertility of the soil for the following year - couple that with the huge amount of vegetation produced by the combination that can be dug in or composted and the sustainability of the method soon proves itself.

1 "The sweetcorn provides a natural support for the beans"

But only if you grow 6-7 foot high corn

2 "the beans help to stabilise the corn plants, making them less vunerable to blowing over in the wind"

I can't imagine this; they are surely much more vulnerable, as a tree in full leaf or covered with ivy is much more likely to be blown over

3 "the shallow rooted squash plants become a living mulch, smothering emerging weeds and reducing water evaporation "

Shallow or not, squash roots are enormous length and can only serve to remove more water from the soil
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Re: Growing corn on the cob

Postby Johnboy » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:48 am

Hi Alan,
The more we write the more improbable the Three Sisters System becomes.
Maize is about the most hungry of crops, Squashes take in an enormous amount of water thus depriving the Maize of it's full share and Beans are hungry for P and K but not N. Too much N for Beans and you get many leaves and few Beans.
Now put the three things together and it sounds totally ridiculous which it surely is!
JB.
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