Sweet corn is an annual crop that produces ears of yellow, white, or bi-colored kernels. A long, frost-free growing season is necessary for growing corn. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest corn in your home garden!
Corn (maize) is one of the Three Sisters—corn, beans, and squash—and has been in cultivation for thousands of years. Native to North America, corn is thought to have first been domesticated in central Mexico, spreading from there through different peoples across North and South America. Today, corn is grown on an industrial scale, but there are quite a few varieties that are well suited to growing in home gardens, too.
A member of the grass family (Poaceae), corn relies on wind to pollinate its flowers, so it should be planted in blocks of short rows instead of long, single rows.
Types of Sweet Corn
Corn comes in early-, mid-, and late-season varieties. Early-season varieties are the quickest to mature, while late-season may take the entire growing season. For an extended harvest, plant varieties with different “days to maturity.”
There are four main types of hybrid sweet corn: sugary (su), sugar-enhanced (se), shrunken (sh, sh2), and synergistic (sy). Each one contains a different level of sucrose, changing the flavor and texture of the corn. Sweeter varieties will also stay sweeter for longer after harvest. Read more about the differences between these types in the Recommended Varieties section below.