Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables
Corn: Planting Variations (page 2 of 4)
by National Gardening Association Editors
Use presprouting to test the germination rate of seed that's more than a year old. You can also presprout to have completely germinated early corn.
To presprout seeds or to test germination, fold four paper towels into one. Moisten them and sprinkle the seeds onto the moist towel mat. Even though you're sprouting the seeds indoors, it's a good idea to use treated seed to protect them when they're planted outside.
If you want to presprout all your seeds for planting, sprinkle 25 to 30 seeds on each paper towel mat, using as many mats as you need. Roll each mat jelly-roll fashion, being careful the seeds remain evenly spaced. Next, roll up each paper towel cylinder in a damp facecloth.
Put the roll-ups in a plastic bag. Don't seal the bag -- air needs to circulate for germination. Place the "seed sprouter" in a warm spot for four to six days. As soon as the seeds germinate, take them out and plant them. Plant sprouted seeds just as you would unsprouted.
If you're just testing germination, you need to use only 10 seeds. If seven seeds sprout, you'll have about 70 percent germination for that batch of seeds. If you sprout seeds to test germination and the results show a rate less than 100 percent, you'll need to plant enough extra seeds to make up the difference. For instance, if the germination rate is 75 percent, plant 25 percent more for a full row or hill.
Although it's easy to plant corn outdoors the traditional "seed into soil" way, some gardeners like to start corn indoors and transplant the young seedlings. The benefits of transplanting are that you get an early start and you know that each of your seeds will produce a corn plant. It can also save space in small gardens because you don't have to take more room to plant extra seed to ensure a good stand. If you plant supersweet varieties, which often have problems germinating in cool soils, transplanting can help.
If you want to try transplanting corn, sow the seeds in individual peat pots. Start seeds four to five weeks before the average last frost date in your area. Give the seedlings plenty of light and regular doses of food and water. When they're established, harden them off for about a week before you want to plant. To harden them off, place them outdoors protected from sun and wind for increasingly long periods of time. In a few days, they can be left out all night. They're ready for transplanting in 7 to 10 days. Plant each seedling in well-worked soil.