After eating Eugester’s sweet corn from Wisconsin, not just any sweet corn will do! Living in suburbia, in a postage stamp sized yard, the lack of space pretty much eliminated the possibility of planting corn. You might imagine my surprise upon stumbling across a sweet corn that will grow in containers! Is that possible?
It is possible! According to Burpee, On Deck Hybrid corn plants climb to 4 to 5 feet, yielding two to three 7-8 inch ears. A package of 50 seeds for container sweet corn could be had for only $6.95. I had to try it and ordered the seeds in Feb.
I was able to find and purchase 6 heavy duty plastic tree containers from a near by nursery. Once all of the dried dirt was removed, I washed and sanitized each bucket in a 9 to 1 mixer of water and clorine bleach in my wagon.
While the buckets throughly dried and the remaining bleach disapated, I prepared my planting medium. Corn needs to be in well drained soil, which is nutrient rich. The material used in my buckets consisted of well mixed compost, green sand and sandy loam from my vegetable garden. This would insure warm soil with good drainage.
Since corn likes sunshine and moisture, I placed the buckets next to my raised bed in full sun. I extended my drip irrigation to each bucket. (See article on Drip Irrigation) This spot was also a good spot because corn is wind pollinated.
By the time the seeds arrived, the temperature of the soil had reached almost 60 degrees…. perfect! The soil thermometer that I use, is a brand that has been durable and easy to work into the soil. You can also use a USDA Hardiness Zone Map to find the ideal time to plant corn in your area. Sweet corn is a warm season plant and is easily killed by frost. You want to get your seeds in the ground early enough to harvest, before the temperature gets too high. High temperatures interferre with pollination. Here in Oklahoma, I am looking at an eight week harvest in mid July.
Following my own advice, I read the instructions on the seed packet. It suggested planting 9 seeds per 24 inch container. This number was adjusted down to 8 seeds per bucket, planted 1 inch deep. Some container space is lost when laying the drip irrigation in the planters. I wanted to assure even watering, for each plant up to 1 to 2 inches per week. This is because sweet corn requires quite a bit of water, more that other seeds to germinate.
The Original Red Dirt Gardener