Gardening Australia - - IN THE PATCH -

You can sow sweet­corn this month wher­ever you live in Aus­tralia. The seed ger­mi­nates read­ily in pre­pared soil, but if you don’t have a bed va­cant right now, or if you are ex­pect­ing a week of rain (this could rot the seed), start them in multi-cell pun­nets. Don’t use sin­gle-cell pun­nets, as corn hates root dis­tur­bance and the seedlings would be se­ri­ously set back when you sep­a­rate them.

Fill the pun­nets with a com­mer­cial seed-rais­ing mix or homemade com­post, firm it in, then level it off. Make a plant­ing hole in the cen­tre of each cell with your fin­ger, 2–3cm deep, drop in a seed, cover it with mix then wa­ter well. Soak­ing seed overnight first speeds up ger­mi­na­tion.

Corn thrives on rich soil so throw ev­ery­thing you’ve got at it – plenty of well-rot­ted com­post or ma­nure and a good hand­ful of blood and bone, with a fist­ful of po­tash per square me­tre. Fork into the soil then rake it level. If you are di­rect-sow­ing, drag the edge of your rake through the soil to make fur­rows 5–7cm deep, 75cm apart. Make at least three rows to form a block. This will en­sure good distri­bu­tion of pollen, which means plenty of ker­nels on your cobs. Drop in two seeds ev­ery 15–20cm along the row (thin out the weak­est one af­ter ger­mi­na­tion), cover with soil then wa­ter well. To avoid the seed rot­ting in the ground or pun­nets, let the soil dry out be­fore re-wet­ting.

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