By Wednesday it felt like the 108th day of January. A blackboard sign in front of Vintage Iron echoed what most people have been thinking: “Lost: Spring ... Reward: A Million.”
A “million” what was left to the imagination.
There probably aren’t a million kernels on all of these new corn varieties for the home garden, but picked fresh, prepared in your favorite way and slathered with butter, those kernels will taste like a million bucks.
Consider trying one of these varieties in your vegetable patch. Details are from the National Garden Bureau.
“Sweet American Dream “— This variety is noted for excellent germination and tender, super sweet bicolored kernels. A new introduction chosen as an All-America Selections for 2018, it matures a little earlier than similar types in about 77 days. It is described has having a “highly adaptable” growing habit. Illinois Foundation Seeds is the breeder. In trials, the corn was grown against “Honey ‘N Pearl” from the same company and “Sweet American Dream” was the winner.
“Sweet Inferno”— Introduced in 2017 by Harris Seeds/GardenTrends, “Inferno” is described as having “some of the best eating quality you’ll find an early mid- season, yellow sweet corn.” Ears measure 7 1/2 to 8 inches long. Husks are dark green and the ears have 14 to 18 rows of kernels.
“Sweet Kickoff XR” — A 69-day bicolor sweet corn with excellent ear size and eating quality, the kernels have excellent sweetness. This new variety is new from Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc.
“Sweet Latte” — An early maturing sugary enhanced bicolor, “Latte” is said to have good cold soil vigor for early planting. Kernels are sweet and tender with flavor that rivals later maturing varieties. This variety can be grown in the bed or a container and is ready to harvest in about 68 days.
A backyard stand of sweet corn is easy to grow, but Iowa State University horticulturists recommend planting the corn in blocks, not orderly rows because corn is wind pollinated. One sign of poor germination is ears that poorly filled. If you want an extended season of corn to harvest, plant early, mid- and late-season varieties.
Choose a sunny, well-drained location. Ideally, you should have prepared the soil last fall by adding compost or aged manure. Two weeks after the last spring frost date, plant seeds 1 inch deep to 4 to 6 inches apart. Warm soil encourages pollination, so the soil temperature should be above 60 F. Deeply water the plot at planting time and keep plants evenly moist.
Thin plants to provide plenty of room for good growth and air circulation. Keep an eye peeled for raccoons who will slink out of storm drains to steal your corn, as well as insect marauders like flea beetles, spotted cucumber beetles and cutworms.
ISU Extension recommends harvesting corn when the silks have turned brow and dry and the kernels are milky.