I have been taking pictures of a batch of Sweetcorn seeds that I have been growing this week, and it occurred to me that Sweetcorn would be an ideal plant to use to help to get children interested in growing food. If kept warm, it germinates quickly, the root and shoot grow quickly, it can be planted on the surface of your compost, where it is visible at all times. Sweetcorn grows into a nice big plant, which is quite exciting, and the taste is superb.
The pictures and details follow.
I start sweetcorn seeds off by soaking, as described in my last post. I keep the container in the propagator, so that it stays warm, and once a few of the seeds have started to grow, I plant them out into individual cells. I normally wait until there is an emerging shoot, as well as a root, because sometimes the shoot is unable to break through the skin of the seed, and it dies. This year I have “assisted” a couple of them, so will wait to see how successful that is.
This picture shows the first roots starting to emerge from some of the seeds.
Although this picture is out of focus, it clearly shows root and shoot emergence. This takes less than a week. The seeds are then put onto the surface of damp compost, in individual cells. Normally I would use Rootrainers, but I’m short of propagator space, so have put them into smaller cells first, and will move them into much deeper containers once the shoots are a few inches taller. At this stage they will be much hardier, and will require less heat.
The shoots have reached up to 2cm in this picture, which was taken this morning, but the growth isn’t uniform. Some of the seed is still soaking, and hasn’t germinated yet, whilst these are growing on well. When I eventually put these into deeper cells, I will make sure that the first two inches of shoot is covered by compost, to provide some stability, and when they are planted out into their final position, I will mound some soil around the base of the stem, for the same reason.
These are being grown early, to allow me to plant climbing beans with them, so that the beans can use the stems for support, and fix additional Nitrogen for the corn. In the past, the beans grew too quickly, so I’m giving the corn a head start. I will also plant the corn out early, with frost protection, as it will forge ahead with it’s roots in garden soil.