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How To Grow Corn In A Square Foot Garden

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Do you wish you could grow sweet corn but think your yard is to small?  Don’t give up, you really can grow corn in a small space.  The secret is to use square foot gardening!

How to grow corn in a square foot garden |

When corn is grown in the field it is normally planted 4 to 6 inches apart in rows that are 30 to 36 inches apart.  That takes up a lot of room for just a small patch of corn.  When you intensify your planting method you can fit a lot of corn in a small space.

Why would you want to grow your own sweet corn?

The taste!  Honestly that is the main reason we always grow our own.  You just can’t beat the taste of fresh picked sweet corn.  See the minute you pick corn it starts to convert it’s sugar into starch.  So the longer it sits before cooking the more it loses its sweetness.

The BEST sweet corn is picked 10 minutes or less before cooking.  Really, if you haven’t tried corn that fresh before you have to it’s so good.

This is a great place to get organic heirloom corn seed!

Growing Corn In Square Foot Garden

Growing corn in your backyard is so easy to do even if you only have a small space. The key to being successful growing corn this way is to have healthy soil.

When you want to intensify your plantings you need to make sure you have a good quality soil to plant in.  Four years ago we were introduced to the Back To Eden garden method.

You can grow lots of corn in a small space! These step by step tips on how to plant corn using the square foot method will help you grow lots of sweet corn in your backyard garden. Even if you are a beginner gardener it is well worth it to try growing your own corn, you just can’t beat the taste of fresh homegrown sweet corn!

If you haven’t heard of this before it’s all about using deep mulch in your garden and encourages the use of wood chips over other types of mulch.  The wood chips help to suppress weeds, reduce the need to water and as they compost leave you with a beautifully rich soil to plant in.

One of the questions I’m often asked is how do you plant your garden after you’ve covered it with a thick mulch.  We’ve been experimenting with different ways and came up with a very easy way to combine square foot gardening with the Back To Eden garden method.

All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less SpaceAll New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

When Should You Plant Corn?

Sweet corn can be planted in your garden between May 15th and June 10th in most areas in a zone 4, 5 or 6 growing zone.

Corn seeds will rot if planted into soil that is to cold for a long period of time. The ideal soil temperature to plant corn in your garden is 18C (65F) but warmer is better.

If you are having an unusually cold spring you can start your corn seeds indoors in seed starting trays and then transplant them out into the garden when the weather warms up.

Tips To Make Planting Corn In A Square Foot Garden Easier

Planting corn isn’t hard to do, but there are some helpful garden tools that will make your job so much easier!

I would strongly suggest making or buying a square foot planting grid. Using one of these will make planting your sweet corn so much faster! Your planting holes will be perfectly spaced and it’s so easy to just move the planting guide over lining up the edges so your garden rows stay nice and straight.

The next helpful tool is a planting dibber. These are tools that make pressing out a planting hole nice and easy! Again you can make your own or buy a nice steel coated one. The benefits a steel coated dibber is that it easily goes into the soil even if the soil isn’t as light and fluffy as you’d like.

That makes it easier to plant in clay soils or after your garden has been rained on a few times.

Esschert Design Dibber/Bulb PlanterEsschert Design Dibber/Bulb PlanterZenport GA401 Dibber for Planting Seeds and BulbsZenport GA401 Dibber for Planting Seeds and BulbsSeeding Square The Color-Coded Seed Spacer.Seeding Square The Color-Coded Seed Spacer.

How To Plant Corn In A Small Garden

We plant our sweet corn 4 inches apart this gives us 9 plants per square foot.  My hubby made a wooden planting guide to help us keep the spacing just right. This saves us a lot of time, as the holes are made and planted we simply flip the grid over and make more holes. This keeps the spacing nice and even.

Step 1 Mark Your Planting Area

The first step is to mark off where you want to plant your corn.  We use our row maker to mark the edges of the planting bed.

Step 2 Prepare Your Garden Bed For Planting Corn

planting corn step 1 |

Rake the mulch back off your planting area.  Then remove any weeds that have started growing under the mulch.  Normally there isn’t many and they are very easy  to pull out because the mulch keeps your soil so soft.

Step 3 Make Your Corn Planting Square Foot Holes

Making planting holes for corn |

Lay your planting guide down and use a dibber to poke a hole into each circle.  You want your holes to be 1 inch deep. Yup, that is vice grip pliers you see on the end of our dibber. lol It was a very quick and easy way for us to mark how deep we needed to plant.

Step 4 Plant Your Corn Seeds

planting corn seed |
corn planting 2 |

Drop 1 corn seed into each hole.  Then flip your planting guide over and line it up to start the next section.

Step 5 Cover The Corn Seed

Cover the corn seed with soil.  I do this as we work so while my hubby is making the planting holes for the next section I’m covering the one I just planted with soil.

Step 6 Mulch Your Corn

Rake the mulch back over top of your planting area and water it well.

Corn is wind pollinated so you should plant at least a 4 foot x 4 foot area to ensure good pollination.

When Do You Harvest Sweet Corn?

I know, fresh sweet corn tastes so good you just can’t wait to start picking it for your corn roast.

But do you know when corn is ready to harvest?

It’s actually really easy to tell when sweet corn is ready to pick. Start by looking at the silk on the top of the corn cob. It should be brown and dry to the touch.

Next the cobs will start to sag away from the corn stock a bit. Press your finger nail into one of the corn kernels. If it’s ready it will start dripping a milky color.

To harvest your sweet corn, hold a cob and pull it down from the corn stock, then twist it and it will come right off. Remember to eat it as soon after picking as possible for the best taste!

Would you like to see how quick and easy this really is?  Here is a video showing how we planted our corn this year.

More Helpful Resources:

How to grow lots of corn in your small backyard garden.
Yes you can grow corn in a small space! Try planting in using a square foot method. Don't miss planting tips for the Back to Eden garden method. |


Saturday 11th of June 2022

Thank you. I have a 12*8 BOE garden in my small lot I’m currently using mostly for vegetables but I’ll try this next year with sweet corn.

Allison Jubb

Saturday 24th of April 2021

Thanks for the corn growing tips! I am planting corn for the first Tim in my raised square foot garden this year. If I plant 9 per square, do I thin them or keep all that germinate? Also, do I still use 2-3 seeds per hole? Thanks!

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Saturday 24th of August 2019

I planted corn this year, four to a square foot, in a 4’x4’ square foot garden raised bed. The stalks started out well, but started to brown mid season. The cons are tiny and not fully pollinated. What could I have done better??