Friday, October 30, 2015

Sweet Baby Corn : Zea Mays

I bought a pack of sweet baby corn seeds, a variety that specially produce baby corns that are usually used in stir-fries and for salads.

I sowed 6 seeds and all germinated. The seedlings grew at a rather fast rate. This is the first time I'm growing baby corns, so I'm pretty ignorant about its growing habits and such. They were growing really well and when the tassels grew, I was so excited! It was a pretty sight! Then, when the baby corns starts to appear, that was when I get pretty confused! Read on to find out why.

5 weeks old, they grew pretty fast!

The tassel growing at the top, at six weeks.

Tassel getting bigger separating into individual long "stems"

At seven weeks, the tassel (the male flowers) has grown into dangling anthers. And the plant stands at more than 5 feet tall. This is the tallest among the 6 plants, the rest are in various heights. Since this is a baby sweet corn variety, the tassels are not important in pollinating the silks of the corn, as the baby corn will be harvested at the baby stage. But I did shake the plant gently, and I can actually see the golden pollen falling off like fine gold dust! I tried taking the photos but the camera could not capture the golden dust! Too bad, so you will just have to imagine that yourself! :)

Spotted the first ears of corn at seven weeks.

.a week later

At about two weeks later, the cob is visible with the silks but without the husks covering it! See the last pic on the right, the husks are opened exposing the corn inside. Is this normal? The cobs are green in colour though from the photo above the cobs looks yellow, but it is green, only the tip is light creamy yellow in colour. Should I wait until the cob baby kernels turn yellow? I am baffled and confused! A freak corn? I google for information from the internet and could not find anything on this. All of the pictures I've seen are corn with the husks on when harvested. So I decided to wait a little longer.

A few days later I decided to harvest it at this point, as it is getting hard and tough, and not turning yellow! Obviously it is beyond the harvesting time!

See the green cobs? Another one! There are about 4 or 5 of these growing, which was pretty disappointing! Anyone knows why they grow without the husks covering them? My only guess is that the ears are already growing inside, hidden by the leaf of the corn plant, and by the time they actually emerge from the leaf node of the plant, they have already matured and past the stage of harvesting. But why was it not enclosed in the husks. Strange! Even the silks are not turning brown or red. Does anyone know why? 

Fortunately, there are a few good ones! There, this looks more like what a baby corn should be! They are best harvested at this stage, about 4" to 6" long, and when the silks are beginning to grow.

Overall, from the six plants, the harvest are pretty disappointing, due to those corns that grew without the husks which turned out hard and tough. I managed to get about 10 good ones. There are a few which I harvested maybe a little too late, as I was unsure of the right time to harvest, but they were OK to eat, still tender but not as sweet as the ones I harvested much smaller in size. They are cream coloured instead of yellow, which we usually buy from the market. I ate one small corn raw, right after harvesting and they are very tender and sweet! So I ate another one! Very sweet! The rest goes into a dish of stir-fries with broccoli and carrots. 

Would I grow these Sweet Baby Corns again? At the moment no, but I would, if only I have the extra space and preferably to grow them in the ground or if using pots, make sure the pot is really, really deep. I grew them in large styrofoam containers and the roots grew out of the holes at the bottom and are all over the floor (see the photo below).

See the outline shapes of the two bricks I placed under another container which was placed next to it. The roots found their way under the bricks and they are really compact, I could pull them out and the whole piece looks like a piece of thick carpet! They have a very big root system. At the end of the growing period, the tallest corn plant stands at 7 feet high, which is not what I expected, as I thought that growing them in containers would somehow be a little shorter than that.  

How I grow the sweet baby corn in my potted garden :
I direct seeded them in the containers. Soil medium I used was a mixture of organic veggie gardening soil, added some organic compost and fertilized with organic humus fertilizer which is rich in nitrogen, as I've read that corn plants are heavy feeders of nitrogen.  I fed them with more fertilizer during their growing period, about once in two to three weeks. Corn plants need frequent watering, do not allow the soil to dry out. Our weather is extremely  hot, so I water them twice a day. Corn plants needs full sun to grow, so best position them in the area where they can receive full sun as much as possible. With enough of moisture and fertilizer, they grow very fast.

Each corn plant can yield about 3 to 5 baby corns. So in order to enjoy more baby corns, you would need to grow at least about 10 plants. I harvested the first baby corn at about 65 to 70 days (as what the packet indicates) from date of sowing the seeds. 

It has been a learning experience growing baby corn, watching the progress from the seed to seedling, see how fast they grew, excited at the sight of the first tassel (and beautiful golden dusts!), waiting for the ears of corn to form, and the sweet harvest in the end, even though I was expecting more. I'm glad that I did give a go at growing sweet baby corns! Have you grown corn plants before?

Happy Gardening !


  1. Hi Joyce! How interesting you planted corn! Not too long ago someone gave me a bag of baby corn. I was pleasantly surprised that they taste so good raw. Rather strange that some of your corn came out "naked" hah..hah... But still, you managed to get good ones, though not many. I guess to grow corn, we need more space and my garden is way too small for an experiment. Well, you've had the pleasure of experiencing planting and harvesting corn and cooking with it too :)

  2. That's good harvest of corn in container joyce! They look so fresh!

  3. Where can we get organic humus fertiliser please? Thanks for sharing Joyce. I have been enjoying myself reading all your posts.

    1. Hi Chowchow,
      I bought it from a nursery. I cannot remember the brand as I have thrown away the plastic packaging. But I'm sure that you can find it from most nurseries. Thanks for stopping by and reading my posts!

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