Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Corn: Planting Variations (page 3 of 4)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Raised Beds

A raised bed is garden soil that's been raised six to eight inches. Corn does best in soil with good drainage, so raised beds can provide quite a boost for corn in less-than-ideal soil conditions. For instance, a patch of land that takes forever to dry in the spring or one that stays wet after each rain are the last places you want to grow corn. Raised beds with loose soil, however, can counteract those problems. In raised beds, the soil dries faster after rain and is ready to plant earlier in the spring.

You can make raised beds any time the soil is workable. For earlier corn planting in the spring, make them the preceding fall. If you make them in the early spring, the crop will still be able to take advantage of the added soil warmth. Raised beds keep the soil 5&deg F to 10&deg F warmer.

To make a raised bed, work the soil well. Stake the first row the length and width you want. Then, use a hoe or rake to pull 3 to 4 inches of loose soil from the far walkway. Don't walk on the walkway until after you've drawn soil from it. If you do, the earth will pack down, making it more difficult. You're actually lowering the walkways at the same time you're raising the bed. If you take 3 to 4 inches of soil from the walkway and add it to the bed, the difference will be a 6- to 8-inch-high raised bed. Rake the tops of the beds to smooth them out, then plant as usual. Don't walk on the raised beds.

To use raised beds wisely, plant corn in double rows on beds that are about 16 inches wide. By placing two raised beds of double-row corn close together, you have the four rows needed for good pollination.

Once the corn is planted, care for it just as if it were planted on level ground.

Interplanting

You can save garden space and ward off animal pests by interplanting pole beans, winter squash, pumpkins or gourds with your corn. Pole beans climb right up the corn stalks, and vine crops spread between the stalks. Neither interferes with the corn's growth. The dense foliage and prickly vines in the corn rows are also supposed to keep out raccoons, which are pests in some areas.

Interplant vine crop seeds when you plant your corn. Plant in rows or hills between the corn rows. Once the vines start to run, you won't be able to cultivate between the rows. When it's time to side-dress the corn with additional fertilizer, sprinkle it carefully so it doesn't touch the squash or pumpkin foliage. Also, when harvesting the corn, take care not to step on the vines, as this might damage or kill the sensitive plants. Harvest the vine crops in the fall when they're fully mature.

To interplant pole beans, wait until your corn is six to eight inches tall. Plant the beans on the sunny, southern side of the cornpatch on the outer rows. Plant two or three beans seeds around every third or fourth cornstalk. Later, thin the beans to one plant for each stalk. Guide the growing beans up the corn stalks and harvest both crops as usual.

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