Years ago, my dad went on a mission to find *proper* fresh sweetcorn; he waxed poetic about the incredible flavour difference between fresh and store bought. Did you know that the sugars in sweetcorn start breaking down into starch almost immediately?  When I learned that I decided the only way I could give him the sweetcorn he was looking for, was to grow my own.

It’s a bit of a fiddly crop, but not prohibitively so. The first job the UK gardener has is to choose a quick maturing variety to ensure your crop is ready to harvest before the season turns cold. I usually choose “Swift” and/or “Early Xtra Sweet” and sow my seeds indoors in the spring. Sweetcorn has a reputation of not wanting its roots disturbed so I find toilet paper tubes are ideal for this. Cut one end into four sections, fold them up and fill with seed starting compost while you are growing indoors; when you go to plant out just fold the ends back down to allow the roots easy access to their new home.

The long days of summer mean happy sweetcorn will genuinely surprise you at how quickly it can grow.  Usually around July/August you will see immature cobs form on the strong stalk and sticky hairs come out the top of the cob which are called silks.

These silks are each attached to a single kernel of corn and must all touch pollen in order for the kernel to swell. Unlike most other plants, sweetcorn is wind pollinated (Fun fact: Baby corn is just unpollinated sweetcorn). This is no problem if you are growing a whole field of it but backyard crops need some additional help to ensure you are able to harvest a cob full of pollinated kernels.