ie: Peas and Beans
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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.
Sow April and May
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.
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.
Mulch with organic matter, to conserve moisture and suppress weeds and mound soil over the roots, which appear at the base of the stems. Hoe carefully as they are shallow rooted.
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.
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.
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