Planting Corn in Blocks

Our past attempts at growing corn have failed but thankfully we have neighbors who will share or trade with us so we can enjoy a few cobs. This year I am trying things a little differently with our corn seed by planting in blocks instead of rows. I would say I am an optimist this time around. Below is a little monthly timeline of my Corn in Blocks Experiment using seeds directly planted in the ground and I am attempting to transplant corn as well from starts in the greenhouse.

 

Progress timeline

 April

Here’s a little peak at what I’ve been up too outside in between rain showers.

BEFORE AFTER SEEDS 2014     BEFORE                                         AFTER (corn on far right)

 I am excited to see almost everything is growing (3 stubborn cantaloupes are still hiding). Yep I am a few weeks behind but at least I have a start. Now I just need to keep everything alive until I plant the rest outside. ::sigh::

This is the first year I am trying corn in the greenhouse. I know corn is not a fan of being transplanted. I doubt the soil temperature is warm enough to even sprout the corn outside right now. But with our a tiny planting season a little experimenting can’t hurt.

I read that it is better to plant the corn in blocks instead of rows for better pollination. So I made 2 blocks so far with some black plastic bags to help warm up the soil and added some mulch around the perimeter to keep the weeds down. I outlined the mulch with radishes too because it is supposed to deter corn borers once it goes to seed. The radishes will grow quickly. We tend to use radishes as a sacrifice plant amongst our other garden vegetables. It helps draw the flea beetles away. I’m sure it does more than that, but I am still learning about companion planting. So far what I’ve tried seems to work. More progress reports to come. Thanks for reading.

April/May Recap

I am trying an experiment with corn in blocks instead of rows. I also outlined them in radishes because I read it helps deter some bugs. I placed black plastic down to warm the soil since it takes our area so long to warm up. One square will be seeds planted directly and the other will be for transplants. I know corn does not like being transplanted but I thought I’d try it anyway since they sell the plants at the store. It must work somewhere or maybe they are just trying to make a few bucks off people like me. I did not buy my corn starts instead I soaked the seeds and started them in the greenhouse.

Planting Corn in Blocks

Direct Sow Block: I poked holes in the black plastic and dropped a 2 to 3 seeds in each hole. (farthest block in the photo)

Progress: The black plastic really worked and I saw sprouts a few days later.

 

Transplant Block: I cut an “x” in the plastic, peeled back the corners and scooped out a section of dirt. Next I gently tipped the container upside down to let the corn slide out. Then I placed it in the hole and covered it back up with the dirt I scooped out. (closest block in the photo)

Progress: So far so good. Nothing looks dead. The black plastic is helping since our temperatures are still on the colder side of Spring especially at night. I tried thinning out the extra stalks that sprouted by cutting them instead of pulling them out so as not to disturb them any further. But they grew back. This happened with both blocks. Hmmm what to do?

 

June

Planting Corn in Blocks JunePhoto: The farthest section is the corn seed block and the closest block has the transplants.

I just removed the black plastic since our temperatures are finally somewhat ideal. Now if the wind doesn’t knock things over we will be good to go.

The transplants from our greenhouse are obviously taller but the seeds planted directly in the ground are not that far behind in terms on height. The colors of the corn stalks in the direct sow block are much darker in comparison to the transplants. Not sure if this means anything but I made a note of it.

 

 July

I accidentally deleted the photo I wanted to put here. But I am happy to report that the majority of our corn, both the sprouted and transplanted corn, are just a few centimeters shy of knee high by the 4th of July. This is the first time ever for us here in North Idaho. Such a small thing to be excited about but I am jumping for joy inside!

 

Mid-July

We had a few strong winds come through and the stalks on the perimeter now resemble the leaning Tower of Pisa. I decided to prop them back up and mound more dirt around the base. A few stalks are showing off tassels.

 

August

My parents had some medical challenges lately so I am ashamed to show any pictures at this time because the weeds are invading. There are a few visible ears but I have not had much time to inspect them any further.

Direct Block: It is about a foot taller but no visible ears yet

Transplant Block: A few ears are forming.

Corn Experiment

Late August/Early September

The final consensus of this experiment is in favor of transplants. I say that because the ears were fully formed even though the stalks were a foot shorter than the direct sow block. While the direct sow block was taller, the ears did not form properly or the husks were empty. I will have to try again next year and hopefully there will not be as many medical challenges interrupting our progress.

Have you tried planting corn in blocks and did you have favorable results?

 

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