Corn is a tender vegetable that needs lots of sun and warm weather to grow well. If planting in a square foot garden, especially in windy areas, be sure to provide support because the soil is loose and the corn can blow over.

Spring Planting

Plant seeds directly in the garden from the week of the spring frost date until three weeks after. If you want to stagger the harvest, divide the area into several sections and plant each section every 10 days. Or, find varieties that harvest at different times.

Each section should be at least 2’x2’ but preferably 3’x3’ or more. It’s important to have enough plants that they can pollinate properly, or you won’t get full ears of corn.

Fall Planting

Corn cannot tolerate cold temperatures, and should not be grown in the winter.

Soil and Fertilizer

Corn is a heavy feeding plant, and needs lots of nitrogen to grow well. Amend the soil with lots of compost; add fertilizer at planting and twice during the season. Keep corn well-watered for best production.

Fertilizer: 16-16-8 at planting, 34-0-0 when corn reaches 8” (20 cm) and again when it reaches 18” (45 cm)


Corn is ready to harvest 2-4 weeks after silk emerges—the silks will be brown and dry, and the kernels will have milky juice when popped with a fingernail. Clear juice means it’s not quite ready (pull the husks back up and wait a day or two), and thick jelly means it’s past its prime. Steady the corn stalk while removing the ear downward, with a twist.

More Resources

Happy Gardening!

You may also like...