‘Swift’ F1: (Extra tender sweet) One of the best varieties to choose for growing your own sweetcorn in the UK. Plenty of cobs.

Test for ripeness when the tassels have turned chocolate brown - squeeze a grain between thumbnail and fingernail; if a watery liquid squirts out, it is unripe; if it is creamy, the cob is ready; if paste-like it is over-mature. Twist ripe cobs from the stem. They rapidly lose their flavour so have a pan of boiling water ready before you harvest, ready to plunge them in.

      1. Growing Sweetcorn – QUICKSTART GUIDE to growing sweetcorn 2. Planting Sweetcorn – How and when to plant sweetcorn 3. Harvesting Sweetcorn – When and how to harvest sweetcorn 4. Freezing Sweetcorn – How to freeze sweetcorn 5. Sweetcorn Growing Tips – Some tips to help you grow sweetcorn 6. Sweetcorn Problems, Pests and Diseases – Help is at hand if your sweetcorn start to misbehave   Back to main Growing Vegetables page

If you don't trust your judgment, you can pull back a bit of the husk and check to see if the ear looks well filled and the kernels are creamy yellow or white. Many gardening guides tell you to pierce a kernel with your thumb nail to test for ripeness. If the liquid inside is watery, that ear isn't quite ready. If the liquid is white or "milky," you're in business.

When the popping stops, remove the pot from the heat and take off the lid to let the steam escape. The popcorn is ready. Enjoy it plain, or add your favorite topping.

Some people claim that you should put the water on to boil before going to the garden to harvest the corn because it loses its fresh-picked flavor so quickly. Although the timing isn’t quite that critical, it tastes best soon after harvest. Once you pick the corn, the sugars begin converting into starches and in a week or so it will taste more like the corn you buy in the grocery store than garden fresh corn.

Mid-seasoned tendersweet variety. Produces medium-sized well filled cobs of thin skinned kernels. Tolerates cooler growing conditions well. F1 Hybrid. Available Now Supplied as a packet of approximately 40 seeds.

As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks rather than rows, 45cm (18in) apart. Conversely, there are some mini sweetcorn cultivars which are harvested before fertilisation, and so don't need to be grown in a block and can even be grown as a windbreak.

Sweetcorn is wind pollinated and best planted in large blocks, where the male flowers at the top of the plant have more opportunity to shed their pollen on the female tassels (where the cobs will form) below. Each plant will produce one or two cobs, so work out how many cobs you're likely to need (you can freeze them) and provide enough space to achieve this.

If you have a glut of sweetcorn, you can freeze it. Blanch the cobs in boiling water for five minutes, cool in iced water, then strip off the kernels and store in freezer bags. 

Popping Corn. The first white popping corn variety bred by an English breeder. Slender cobs of pale yellow corn that can be dried and popped. Available Now Supplied as a packet of approximately 40 seeds.

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Knowing when to pick corn is one of the most important factors for a quality crop. Corn is ready for harvest about 20 days after the silk first appears. At harvest time, the silk turns brown, but the husks are still green.

Pale yellow, sweet and crunchy babycorn cobs. Easy to grow (no cross pollinating required as for other sweetcorn varieties). Vigorous and very reliable habit. SOLD OUT UNTIL 2017 Supplied as compost block grown plants.

Before you begin picking the corn, make sure it is in the “milk stage.” Puncture a kernel and look for milky liquid inside. If it’s clear, the kernels aren’t quite ready. If there is no liquid, you’ve waited too long.

Pop homegrown popcorn just as you would store-bought. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a deep pot. Sprinkle in enough kernels to coat the bottom and cover the pot. If not, as soon as you hear the first kernel pop, shake the covered pot vigorously while the rest pop. Shaking prevents the kernels from burning, and the unpopped kernels stay on the bottom nearest the heat. If you're using a popcorn popper, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

So, here’s the best way to harvest your sweetcorn cobs…

Pick the cobs just before you're going to eat them, with water on the boil ready to pop them straight in. The sugars in sweetcorn start turning to starch the very moment the cob is picked, so freshly harvested cobs have a sweetness you'll never get from shop-bought ones.

Plant sweetcorn in the spring and by late summer you’ll be picking lots of fresh cobs, which are far tastier and more succulent than any you can buy in the shop. There are many varieties to try, all of which will thrive in a sheltered, sunny spot with well-drained soil.

Stake plants individually if they are tall or the location is exposed. Water well in dry weather; this is vital when the plants are flowering. Tap the tops of the plants when the male flowers (tassels) open to help pollination; poor pollination results in sparsely filled cobs. Liquid feed when the cobs begin to swell.

If you want the sweetest corn possible, try to harvest each ear at its peak. Keep in mind that the natural conversion of sugar into starch is sped up when you harvest. The moment you pick an ear of sweet corn, its sugars start to change into starches because the natural goal is to nourish seed for reproduction. In 24 hours, most varieties convert more than half their sugar content to starch. However, the new super sweet varieties stay sweet much longer after harvest than the old standards.

Each stalk should have at least one ear near the top. When conditions are right, you may get another ear lower down on the stalk. The lower ears are usually smaller and mature a little later than the ones at the top of the stalk.

The sweetness of corn depends on the variety, temperature and amount of sunlight during the day when the ears are forming. The plant makes the most sugar on cool, sunny days. If the temperature is too hot, the sugar-making process is slowed. That's why the long, crisp, sunny days of early fall produce the sweetest corn.

Keep a close eye on your sweetcorn cobs as they swell. Once the tassels have turned brown, test for ripeness by peeling back the outer husks and pushing your fingernail into the cob. If a milky solution comes out, then the cob is ready to pick, but if the liquid is clear, leave it a little longer.

If you want to store corn over the winter or grind your own cornmeal, give it time to harden completely. This means it has passed through its entire carbohydrate production cycle. It will then contain such heavy starch that it will be too hard to bite and it will keep for many months in storage.

Sweetcorn is delicious eaten fresh and there are some new selections that are easier to grow in the UK. Mini sweetcorn is a good choice if you haven’t grown your own sweetcorn before as, unlike the large sweetcorn, it doesn’t need to be grown in blocks and you should get five or six cobs from each plant. The plants also make a useful windbreak.

How to harvest sweetcorn

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Grow sweetcorn in a sheltered, sunny position, protected from strong wind, on any fertile garden soil. Add up to two bucketfuls of organic matter, such as rotted manure, and also rake in 100g per sq m (4oz per sq yd) of Growmore before planting. Plants are less successful on dry or heavy soil.

Although opening the husk is a fairly sure test, try not to do this. Once you open an immature ear, it's susceptible to insect and bird attacks as it continues to ripen. It usually takes only a little practice to become a good judge by feeling the ends of the ears.

If you have a choice, it's a good idea to harvest corn as close to the time you're going to eat or use it as possible. In fact, you might want to have the water boiling for corn on the cob before you head out to harvest. To harvest sweet corn, grab an ear and twist it down and off the stalk.

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Gardeners are willing to devote time and garden space to growing corn because fresh-picked corn is a treat that tastes much better than grocery store corn. Harvest corn when the ears are at the peak of perfection. Left too long, the kernels become hard and starchy. Read on for corn harvesting info that will help you decide when the time is right for harvesting corn.

Pull up the corn stalks immediately after harvest. Cut the stalks into 1-foot lengths before adding them to the compost pile to hasten their decay.

Celebrate with the Last of Summer's Bounty and Welcome Fall! cookinwithherbs | September 9th, 2010

For your sweetcorn to taste its absolute best (and it really does make a difference), you want to cook the cobs as quickly after picking as you can. The ability to cook so shortly after harvesting is one of the golden benefits of growing your own sweetcorn at home. We get the pan boiling before we venture into the garden to pick the cobs…but we’re probably taking it too seriously!

Home grown popcorn, what could be better? Ruby-red round cobs that look a little like large Strawberries! The dried kernels make excellent quality sweet popcorn. SOLD OUT UNTIL 2017 Supplied as compost block grown plants.

The loss of sugar is much slower at lower temperatures, so refrigerate corn if you're not going to be able to eat it right away. If you're not near a refrigerator and you have some harvested corn, keep the freshly picked ears in single layers, rather than stacking them. Corn tends to overheat inside its tight husks, so give each ear as much breathing room as possible. It also helps to cover the ears with a damp cloth.