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When to harvest sweetcorn

Posted: Monday 11 August 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

The sweetcorn's plumping up nicely - although it's a bit of a race as we're just about to move out of this house.


The sweetcorn's plumping up nicely - although it's a bit of a race as we're just about to move out of this house. Do we risk picking it a bit early? Do we sneak back in to the garden when nobody is looking? Or do we rely on the generosity of the new owners?

We've never grown it here before so we're reluctant to lose the chance to actually eat the things. In South America sweetcorn is usually eaten with beans (as opposed to lashings of butter, which is our preferred recipe). This is beautifully synchronistic, as the corn lacks a certain vitamin that the beans supply and the beans lack a different vitamin supplied by the corn. Hey presto! A balanced diet.

We planted our sweetcorn in a block (rather than a row, as one does with most other plants in the vegetable garden) because they're wind pollinated and that's the best way to ensure that all the flowers are fertilised. The male flowers are on the top of the plants and the pollen falls onto the female flowers lower down.

In order to find out if they're ripe, first check whether the tassel (which is the remains of the female flower) has turned brown. Second, peel back the leaves a bit and squeeze one of the kernels. If the juice is milky, then you're in business.

I'm off for a quick squeeze of my kernels as sweetcorn is much, much better eaten fresh.





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