Do you mulch corn?

regaldozer(6A)July 1, 2007

1st year corn grower. NY Hudson Valley. 1st planting is just about knee high. I have pumpkins in between the corn rows, also coming along nicely. I side dressed with some coffee grounds (very sparingly) today and I was wondering if I should mulch the corn? everything else is mulched with either cedar mulch or hay....


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I did, but that's because it is so so hot down here and my soakers evaporate to quickly before the water has a chance to soak the ground good. I used compost, soil, then shredded newspaper.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 11:20PM
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I am sorry to have to tell you that there won't be much corn from those plants. They look more like heavy grass than corn. To produce real ears, corn plants need to have big, wide, dark green leaves. The pumpkins may produce something, but they don't look so hot either.

Corn demands a very high level of nitrogen. The more available nitrogen, the closer the plants can be spaced, but your plants are clustered together and are starving for nitrogen.

To grow really productive corn, stretch out your planting string between steel posts, then dig a 4-inch deep trench with your hoe just to the side of the string, and line it with a continuous application of a balanced fertilizer, like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Fill in the trench, then take the hoe and make a shallower 1-inch trench directly under your string. Plant about 3 or 4 seeds every 12-14 inches, then thin to 2 plants per hill when the seeds germinate. Keep the rows between corn fairly wide -- 30 inches is ok, but 36 is better. It is good practice to "hill" the corn; go down the center of the row with your spade and shovel dirt around the base of the plants. This will permit more rooting, and support the plants in windy, rainy conditions. After the corn seed germinates closer to the surface, the roots will go down and find the nitrogen fertilizer and the plants will grow vigorously. Planted this way, corn can develop one very large, and one 3/4 large ear per plant.

I would not be interplanting pumpkins or anything else in the corn until your have mastered the needs of growing the corn first. After you have hilled, you can fill the trench created in the rows with mulch, but you can't do that if you are trying to grow an additional something between the rows. I have often dumped a 4-6 inch layer of stable manure from the local riding stables in the trench after hilling. It holds moisture, and helps build the soil for next year. If you can't get stable manure, grass clippings or ground leaves would be fine.

Coffee grounds are not a particularly appropriate fertilizer for corn, since they are acidic and corn prefers a soil on the alkaline side. There is little to no nitrogen in coffee grounds, and they might keep your corn awake. If you want to try to give your corn a shot this year, application of a balanced nitrogen fertilizer hoed in close to the plants might be enough to give you a small ear on each plant. But thin them.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 12:09AM
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I don't think that it is too late though. Personally, my corn was planted close like yours. It was heart wrenching, but I went through and pulled about every other corn, basing my judgment on those that were thriving to those that were knee high and saving the bigger trunked stocks. I did this, applied compost and mulch, and now only 2 weeks later, my corn must have grown about a foot and I have 3 healthy ears, 2 on one plant and 1 on another. In between my corn, I chose to plant beans. Interplanting smaller vining crops is like intensive gardening because my beans can trellis up the stocks. Pumpkin might be a bit too invasive, but if you thin them way out to your 2 most healthy vines and spread them out at least 6' apart, you might have some pumpkins in time for Halloween.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:34AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I grow Golden Bantam, an oldfashioned open pollinated corn, like this:

My beds are permanent, and permanently mulched, and are about 4 feet wide. On the side of the bed, I pull back the mulch to make a circle about 15 inches across, then plant 6-8 seeds that I thin to 3. Then staggered across the bed, I plant another. Then I come back to the first side and plant a third. When I plant, I do at least 3 "circles' at a time, sometimes 4 or 5. This is an extremely easy way to plant corn. Pollination is sufficient and the whole harvest is staggered, which I prefer, though of course you could plant the whole bed at the same time and get one big harvest. I don't know whether this technique would work with the newer, fancier corn varieties, which I don't grow because I don't like the flavor.

I side dress with compost and dried blood for nitrogen after the plants are up, but that's all. Corn is a tough plant though it is also one that demands good fertilization. You don't have to make yourself hysterical about it though.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 6:17AM
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gardener's depression setting in before the 4th of july


I also think the problem might be the corn are only getting 6 hrs sunlight. i dont think this is enough

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 7:53AM
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To answer your first question, yes, you can mulch your corn. I mulch everything. This will prevent weeds from sprouting and incoming seeds from birds, etc from planting themselves. It will stabilize soil temperature, help keep consistent soil moisture and if natural, will break down into organic matter for your soil.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:14AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Nitrogen nitrogen nitrogen. Corn likes to eat. Just ask any farmer.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:55AM
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OK, I am not ready to give up. I am going to go thin those bad boys out but is there a liquid nitrogen that I can use for a quick boost? then side dress with something? then cover the whole she-bang with compost.....

and hope?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 1:12PM
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You can use any of the following:

Cotton Seed Meal - a high nitrogen organic fertilizer (quite fast acting).

Hoof and Horn - a high nitrogen fertilizer. Releases nutrients over a longer period and safer for plants than Blood Meal. Apply as a top dressing on hungry leafy plants and soils that need top dressing... more on hoof & horn.

Fish Meal - high in nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as trace elements.

Fish Emulsion - gives excellent results when used as a foliar feed on perennials, vegetables etc... High in nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as trace elements

Dried Blood - very high in nitrogen.

Hoof and Horn
An excellent source of slow releasing nitrogen. This needs to be applied two to three weeks prior to needing the nutrients.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:18PM
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crabjoe(z7 MD)

You want a quick boost? Try Miracle Grow.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:19PM
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