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Lark sweetcorn is an early sweetcorn; can be ready in 75 days after germination. The cobs are about 20 cm long; excellent, sweet flavour. This is our second early variety after Earlibird.
Direct Sow Method
Sweet Corn have deep root systems and unless you are planting a dwarf variety are not well suited to even the largest pots. Amending your soil with compost or manure is recommended as corn is a heavy feeder, using lots of nitrogen. Work or cultivate the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches to ensure the seedlings have a good start and that water can permeate the soil. Adding wood ash to your soil will help deter cut worms if you find these are a problem in your area.
Once the soil has warmed (a good rule of thumb is that the soil is comfortable to bury your hand in) make a shallow trench, about 2” deep. Plant the seeds in pairs of two, spaced 6-8’ apart. One is for you and one is for the pests/birds and even if two plants grow there is plenty of room for them. Cover, firm soil to remove air and water in well. Corn is wind pollinated so in order to maximize yield it should be planted in double rows spaced about 20” apart.
Especially when young, corn will need watering every couple of days. Watering should be done during the cooler hours of the day, in the morning or evening, so as not to shock the plants or lose all your watering work to the hot sun.
Note: This can be a bit of a tricky process as corn plants have fleshy, easily damaged roots and resent being pot bound. However, with the right steps you can get a head start on your sweet corn or make the best of a very short growing season.
Choose deep pots or cell packs that will allow you to easily remove the transplants with minimal root disturbance when you are planting them out. It is important that your corn seedlings do not become root bound as they will be stunted by this. Seed your corn no more than 4 weeks in advance of planting out. Plant the seeds 1 per cell or two per 4-5” pot spaced one inch apart. Water well.
Let seedlings dry slightly between watering but avoid letting them wilt. Avoid chlorinated tap water, water can be filtered or left out overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate. A weekly weakly fertilizer regime is best for small plants. Something like a 5-5-5 NPK will work great (you can just dilute stronger fertilizer). If growing under a cover of any sort, be sure to slowly acclimate them to drier air as they grow. This can be done by simple wedging open the cover a small amount at a time or taking the lid off of the tray for short periods at first and then longer and longer. A fan may be helpful in strengthening your seedlings and preventing rots and molds.
Once the weather and soil have warmed it is time to prep your corn to be planted outside, around late June in the UK. This process is known as hardening off and is meant to slowly adjust your plants to the sun, wind, humidity and temperature outside. The basics of this is to put your plants in a sheltered location outside for a couple hours at first and slowly increase the time and exposure they receive. Bringing them back inside after their time in the elements. First, be sure your daytime temperatures are above 10 degrees Celsius. Start with partial shade and shelter from all wind for corn and then slowly expose them to full sun and air movement. This whole process should take about 5-8 days depending on how drastic of a change you are making.
Be gentle! As noted above you must be very careful not to damage the roots. Dig a hole in a prepared site (see Site Preparation Above) that is larger than the root mass you are trying to put in it. Gently fill around, pack lightly and water in well. An application of weak fertilizer can help with transplant shock (5-5-5 NPK is great). A good layer of mulch can help prevent overheating and wilting in hot weather.