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corn watering

Belleair, FL(Zone 10a)

I just planted silver queen & sugar dots. The seedlings are now 5-6" tall. As some of u may recall, the last time I tried I ended up w/ tiny ears of corn & many people thought I may have overwatered so I'm wondering what an ideal watering schedule would be for these varieties. I live in CLEARWATER, FL
(Zone 10) & we have sand instead of soil which is super fast draining & its HOT. Any suggestions?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I only grew sweet corn once when I lived in south Florida. I would have had lots of corn, except the squirrels ate them all!

My one and only experience taught me that sweet corn likes deep, rich soil, and lots of nitrogen.

I used to have a dump truck load of aged horse manure delivered every August. We also had truck loads of tree trimmings delivered whenever we could get some. Mulch is very hard to find in Florida!

Belleair, FL(Zone 10a)

OK. Should I scratch in the manure or just lay it on top? & what's the difference between horse manure & ages manure?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

brownthumb - you should not use fresh horse manure, it will burn your plants.

I don't remember how long horse manure should be aged, but it's probably at least a year.

You could just spread the aged manure around your plants, or scratch it in. The rain will wash it into the ground.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

I can tell you what is common around here, and what I have done. If you can find similar things where you are I think you could have some really nice vegetables.

Manure from stables may be blended with the bedding material. Often this is shavings, rice hulls or straw (Straw is not very popular here, anymore). The urine from the horses will supply enough nitrogen to decompose the bedding, but not enough extra to call it fertilizer. Similarly, the manure is mostly roughly digested grasses, often alfalfa. (Horses do not have that great a digestive system- you can often identify what they ate after they are done with it) Whatever nitrogen is in the manure is used by the microorganisms to continue breaking down the grasses and alfalfa the horses ate. Very little left over for the plants.
Performance horses (track, show), and breeding stock are fed a much richer mix (a lot of grains), and they may produce a much richer manure.

So it helps to know where the manure is coming from! Even so, it is a low value fertilizer, high value soil amendment.

If you can smell ammonia DO NOT GET IT NEAR THE PLANTS!!!
You will also find identifiable manure and wasted hay. The stall bedding will be identifiable.
Compost it! You could rototil it in if you are going to let that bed lie fallow for a few months.

If you can still identify some of the round balls, or hay the horses wasted, but the odor is no longer of ammonia, it is too fresh. You might be able to side dress some rows, OK to rake it in, but not next to the plants. You could 'till it in a new bed, then plant right away as long as it was well mixed.

If you get a uniform looking product that looks mostly like very fine sawdust, no identifiable material (hay, straw, or manure) then it is ready to use, and safe closer to the plants. When I first set up some beds I simply filled them with 6" of this type of material and planted directly in it. Worked fine. (I probably added some minerals, but I do not remember)

Tree company chips can work really well. In the summer there is a lot of green leaves which supply the nitrogen to break down the woody parts. This will decompose fast (especially in the summer heat). In the winter they are pruning more dormant plants, so there is mostly wood. The few green plants are more often pine, low nitrogen source. I use this to cover the soil all over the garden. Keeps the weeds down. Slowly decomposes. So slow that I do not call it fertilizer. It is not. It is a soil amendment. It improves the soil as the earthworms and other critters carry it underground.

For a sandy soil I would follow a constant program of adding all sorts of organic materials. Find whatever is cheapest because you are going to need a lot of it.
Example: If you want 6" of 50% your sand + 50% organic material you will need 1 cubic yard for 108 square feet.
As it decomposes add more. Probably on a rotating basis as each crop finishes remove the plant remnants and 'til in some more compost. Depending on what kind of organic matter you have found I would add some minerals. This might also vary depending on the next crop I was planning. I might add some nitrogen if the material is too low to compost by itself.
Done right, you could plant right away, and keep on going with the next season's crops. But some organic matter would be better mixed in and let it sit for a few months.

Then mulch. Cover the beds with a coarse enough product that allows the soil to get water and air, but fine enough that it can be 'tilled in at the end of the season.
Mulch moderates the soil temperature
Reduces soil compaction (not much of a problem on sandy soils)
Moderates the soil moisture
Encourages the beneficial microorganisms
Decomposes to become a soil amendment.

Belleair, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks for the info. My county has a law that no store can sell fertilizer from may 1 - October 1 (they say since its our rainy season we don't need to fertilize & therefore there's less pollution in the bay) so having other options is helpful.

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