Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Corn: Planting Variations

by National Gardening Association Editors

If you like experimenting, there are some variations on the basic planting methods you may want to try.

Double Rows

Corn can handle a little crowding, so try planting it in double rows to save space. Double rows are simply two regular rows planted 8 to 10 inches apart. The only difference is that double rows need a little more fertilizer.

Double rows are easy to irrigate, especially if you use soaker hoses or drip irrigation for an even water supply. Double rows also increase the chances for good pollination, because the rows are close together. You save space because you can fit four rows into the space of two.

It's a snap to keep the weeds down in double rows -one swipe down the middle with a narrow hoe or hand weeding takes care of two rows at once. Once the plants have grown some, their leaves will shade the soil between the rows discouraging many weeds.

To plant double rows, stake two planting lines, side by side, about 10 inches apart. Stagger plant the seeds 10 to 12 inches apart in each of the two rows. Hill planting won't work very well in double rows because the plants will be too crowded.

Walkways need to be 24 to 36 inches wide between each set of double rows, just as with single rows.

Furrows

Plant corn in 4- to 6-inch furrows, firming the seeds and covering them with 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil. In a furrow you can plant either in rows or hills. Once the seedlings emerge, fill in the furrow with another 2 inches of soil, being careful not to cover up the plants. As the corn grows, hill the soil around the stems by adding another inch or two of soil every week.

Adding soil keeps out weeds and gives added support to the stalks. This early soil support anchors the plants and helps them stay upright, even in high winds. By keeping weeds down, corn can grow tall and healthy without competition for food and water. Because the roots are deeper than corn planted on level ground, furrow-planted corn often needs less watering. You can also get a jump on the growing season by covering the newly planted furrow with clear plastic for frost protection and quicker germination.

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