Copyright - Walton Road Allotment Society © 2019
If you have planted sweetcorn for the first time, you may wonder how to look after it and how to tell if it is ready to harvest. Here are some handy tips.
You should have planted your corn in blocks, rather than rows. This is essential for proper pollination. Once your corn has started to grow and produce fronds, you are well on track for a healthy crop.
You can feed the corn once it is established. Just throw some Growmore or equivalent general fertiliser on and water in if it doesn't look like rain. As the corn ripens, The fronds at the top of the cobs will turn from golden to brown and then a deep chocolate brown. The fronds as seen on the picture below have just started to turn. Wait until they are fully chocolate brown before you do the next test.
When you think the corn may be ready, usually around early to mid September, carefully strip back the leaves of one of the corn cobs a few inches (whilst it is still on the plant). The kernels should be fully formed up to the top of the plant and look nice and plump. Now stick your nail into one of the kernels. If the juice runs clear, they are not ready. If the juice is milky, they are ready to harvest.
When the corn is ready and harvested, make sure that you eat it or freeze it straight away. The longer it is left off the plant the more taste you lose. I know people who put their pan on to boil before they go to the allotment, pick the corn and go straight home to cook it. Far and away the best thing to do. But don't get chatting and leave your pan to boil dry:-)
Freezing is simple; just strip the leaves and fronds from the corn, blanch the cobs for a few minutes and then either freeze them whole or strip the corn off the cob with a sharp knife and freeze the kernels. This is a handy way to add a handful to salads and stir fries at a later date.