Ears to you
Good Organic Gardening|Good Organic Gardening 12.4
PROLIFIC AND EASY TO GROW, SWEET CORN IS ONE OF THE OLDEST CULTIVATED CROPS IN THE WORLD
Words Chloe Thomson

Sweet corn label

Common name: Sweet corn, maize

Botanical name: Zeya mays

Family: Poaceae (grass family)

Aspect & soil: Sun, well-drained soil

Best climate: All

Habit: Annual

Propagation: Seed, seedling

Difficulty: Easy

CORN IS A HUNGRY PLANT SO IT’S BEST TO FOLLOW A LEGUME CROP SUCH AS BROAD BEANS.

It’s thought sweet corn was first domesticated in Mexico about 10,000 years ago and since then it has become a staple food for many. If you’ve only ever eaten supermarket corn you’d be forgiven for thinking all varieties are yellow. In fact, heirloom corn comes in a rainbow of colours and flavors, each with its own unique qualities.

Sweet corn, as the name suggests, refers to varieties bred to be more sugary as opposed to their maize corn relatives, mostly used for cornmeal or popping corn.

In the commercial growing world, many sweet corn varieties are now genetically modified to make them resistant to weed-killing herbicides such as glyphosate or to produce proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which in turn kill pests.

Breeding for particular traits, including flavour and sweetness, has resulted in many F1 hybrids or hybrid varieties, the seeds of which cannot be collected and resown the following season. Heirloom sweet corn is non-hybrid, open pollinated and not genetically modified.

Heirloom sweet corn is genetically diverse and there are many seed suppliers around Australia encouraging us to grow these old varieties in our gardens.

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