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Starting corn inside

Alexandria, VA

Should corn be started inside or is it not recommended? Been gardening for years but never grew corn before, so just wanting to know the best way to proceed. The corn is Burpees new one that is made for large pots and will be going into a raised bed, if that matters. I'm in zone 7A.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

I'm sure your season is amply long and more than warm enough to sow corn directly into the soil outdoors. (Heck, it's even warm enough and long enough in zone 2... )

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Even though I am in zone 5 or (now they say) 6, we have a short growing season. I have started corn in my greenhouse, using toilet tissue tubes full of potting soil. By the time the corn is up about an inch, the roots are coming out the bottom of the tube. I plant tube and all, about 10 days from planting. It gives us a bit of a jump start on corn eating season. When I plant them out, I direct seed another 3 short rows. Remember that corn is wind pollinated, so it does better in blocks instead of one long row. My favorite variety is Incredible. Have fun!

Alexandria, VA

Thanks. I guess my question should have asked if corn does well started indoors and then moved out. Our season is long but I'd like to get a jumpstart as well as have it mature at different times.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Mine have never experienced any noticeable transplant shock. It'll make a few days difference, and being an avid corn on the cob lover, I think it is worth it.

Lake Helen, FL

You can use deep paper cups whose bottoms have been cut about 5/6 of the way around and left as trapdoors. When the roots appear at the bottom, take off the trapdoor and plunge the cup where you want it to grow
Corn does not always tassel and silk at the same time, so plant batches at intervals

Helena, MT

I tried the corn transplant one year using the TP tube transplant method and my direct seeded corn came out much better. I typically plant the 60 to 70 short season corn seed and still have problems with our short growing season. Last season was a poor year for sweet corn for other gardeners in this area as well. This year I plan on using strips of black plastic to warm the soil before planting my seed.

The zone thing doesn't make much sense to me. Helena is called a 4B zone but it does not compare to other 4 zones. A local nurseryman told me the valley is 5 in the winter and 10 in the summer, while the city which lies adjacent to Mt. Helena is an completely different zone. Rainfall and temperatures vary dramatically and we are less than five miles from the capital building where we live in the center of the valley. With changing weather patterns around the world I think zones don't mean much any more.

Since most home gardeners grow hybrid corn we are somewhat at the mercy of the seed suppliers as to how and where their particular variety is grown. I am seriously considering growing field corn next year and saving the seed. I haven't figured out which corn seed I will use but growing up in Illinois next to a corn experimental farm I use to hop the fence and steal field corn to roast in our trash burner. I would wad up newspaper and toss the ears of corn into the burning newspaper while still in their shucks (much like gymgirl's microwave method of cooking corn), and the corn was just as tasty as any sweet corn I have grown, especially when picked young.

Lake Helen, FL

Because I live in Florida, I daren't direct seed anything-that's just making salad for bugs.

I've planted Walmart's store brand raw popcorn and gotten quite tasty baby corn from it. I have also gotten certain ancient South American varieties in Spanish groceries, both the Peruvian purple and the huge-kerneled cancha de la montaņa,which require rich soil to grow to their impressive full stature- (big) containers and stakes, here. But these ancient kinds *must* be planted in shifts, or with another variety, because they do not tassel and silk at the same time.

Shumway's sells many heirloom kinds of corn, both table and field.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


>> The zone thing doesn't make much sense to me. Helena is called a 4B zone but it does not compare to other 4 zones.

Those USDA Hardiness zones don't mean anything other than the 50% average minimum winter temperature.

Much of Texas is Zone 8, just like I am in the PNW. Their spring crop of tomatoes is all done and burning up around the time it is worthwhile putting a PNW crop of tomatoes outside at all.

I like the Sunset Clim ate Zones, but it can be hard to fin d other people who live in your exact zone. But if you tell people that you live in Sunset Zone 5, they can look up a very clear description of "ZONE 5: Marine influence along the Northwest coast, Puget Sound, and South Vancouver Island".

Another semi-useful zone system is Koppen Climate Zones.
He designed it so that similar plants would grow in (for example) Zone Csb all over the world.
Mild Temperate,
dry summer,
medium-cool summer (warmest month averaging below 22 °C, but at least 4 months averaging above 10 °C).
But Koppen has the opposite problem as Sunset: millions or billions of people live in a Csb zone, but there are very different areas that are all lumped together into "Csb".

I see many of the links below stop working when I paste them into DG.
Here is on e link to all those links, so you should be able to get there in two clicks.]
Sunset Climate Zones (This link won;t work from DG either!)

Koppen Climate Classification System
Koppen Climate System in Wikipedia
(Sorry the link to Wikipedia won't work from DG.
N & S America Koppen Map]
Koppen Zones by County

Links related to weather: Forecasts, History archives, and neat features]
Degree Day Calculator by Zip Code,%20Washington]
Weather Underground!]
The Weather Channel 30-Day Weather]
The Weather Channel Garden Tips

Climate Zones:]
USDA Hardiness Zones (average winter lows)]
Koppen Climate System]
Download Maps

This message was edited Apr 3, 2013 12:01 PM

Helena, MT

We haven't had a really bad winter here in ten years. Kansas winters were worse than here and still are. Our spring weather is the most fickle which affects the corn crop more than anything else. Tomatoes seem to fare better if they are covered at planting time and then again in late August, I really can't complain.about our season, it's just a mater of working in spite of it. Raised beds go into production this weekend. I dig my raised beds down several feet in order to add a layer of cow manure and straw for added heat. Mother N can be fooled.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> spring weather is the most fickle

THAT is something I wish there was a "climate metric " for!

Like how much variation around the "average last frost date" it would take to include 80% of all years.

Or some measure of how many days pass each year between "Gee, it has felt like spring for 2 weeks now!" and "Darn freezing rain and hard frosts came again!"

I get warm and cold spells from December right through March or April. But your extremes are much MORE extreme than my extremes!

Helena, MT

We had hard freezes into May last year and right now it's in the 60's which means Mother N is baiting us to plant. We lost all the buds on the apple trees last year and nothing we could do about it. I can always replant tomato plants since I do a reserve, and several times I went through three transplants even in the caged tomatoes. Getting past spring freezes is the trick to getting an outdoor tomato crop here and very few people ever attempt to grow tomatoes outdoors. My neighbor has completely given up on the idea of growing tomatoes. Instead he and his munskins harvest mine!. They take their lunch boxes to school full of sun gold tomatoes. I have offered to show them how to grow their own, but I think it's more fun to raid mine so I plant the sun gold next to their garden and pretend I don't see them sneaking across..

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Instead he and his munskins harvest mine!. ...
>> so I plant the sun gold next to their garden and pretend I don't see them sneaking across..

You are generous!

I forget your attitude towards heat protection: is it that anything made of plastic film blows away?

Here's a wacky idea:

Maybe some kind of variant could be made from stiff corrugated plexiglass, and low to the ground so it would only work until the tomatoes needed to climb onto a trellis. But it would only be needed from planting out dates through no-more-surprise frost dates.

Ideally, its shape would be tested in a wind tunnel, so you could be sure that wind pressed it DOWN, instead of giving it "lift" like an airplane wing.

I know that some people bury tomatoes deeper as they grow. Maybe make a buried tomato bunker or trench, and use raw compost to warm it up for spring transplanting. Throw the excavated soil far enough away that it makes a windbreak, not a turbulent zone right over the trench.

Transplant seedlings into the lowest spots of the sunken trench, and set the corrugated plexiglass panels in the trench so that they barely stick up above ground level. (Then the wind can't grab them as well.) Maybe chain them down!

As the plants grow, you could shovel soil back onto their stems, making for deeper roots and solid anchors, and back-filling the trench. (But would the trench fill with rain water?)

Maybe the panels "bow" enough that you shove end edge into the trench wall on one side, bow the panel, and dig the edge into the trench wall on the other side. THAT would anchor them!

But it would be very tedious trying to water or weed. Maybe only put the panels in place when the forecast is lower than 40F.

Helena, MT

Too much input Corey. You got my brain spinning again. Corrugated panels used as protection for the sprawled tomatoes may just be the ticket. I use several 7-foot rebar to hold the covered tomato cages and I have a good collection of these rebar. I will think some on your suggestions and see what I come up with. Like I've said before Corey, you would give Buckey a run for his money. Appreciated as always.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Yikes! 7 feet of rebar would have kept Dorothy's house from blowing away in the tornado.

I've seen various panel sizes and formulations in HD - mainly with and without UV protection.

I just know that when someone built an early high-speed steam-powered car, he thought that a curved dome shape SHOULD make the wind press it harder against the road. It turned out, instead, to act like an airplane wing, adding lift.

His first high-speed test run became a test FLIGHT when he went over a slight rise and and just kept rising.

And I know that if you plant a row of trees closely together, "as a windbreak", it can cause the wind to swoop up and back down in a vortex resulting in turbulence that's actually WORSE at a certain distance downwind than the original wind was.

Helena, MT

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I thought about placing the panels perpendicular to the rows at intervals but that seemed a bit too cumbersome for tilling purposes. Besides winds in excess of 50 mph are possible from any direction.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

> winds in excess of 50 mph are possible from any direction.

You might print your name, address and phone number on each panel. People from miles away might find your panels blown through their picture windows.

Excuse me: be careful NOT to leave your name or fingerprints anywhere on the panels!

Maybe the subterranean bunker idea was going in the right direction.

Terrace the row by throwing soil into a tall steep berm on the uphill side.
Plant on the flat terrace below the berm.
Lean the clear panels over the plants and on top of the berm.
Bury the bottom of the panels as deeply into the soil as possible while the plants still get light.
Anchor the tops into the berms with 7' rebar.

At 50 MPH, maybe reinforced concrete footings under the bunker walls would have been a better place to start.

Helena, MT

Well Corey after thinking about the panels I agree that they could end up like sails in a heavy wind. I used wood framed plastic covers over the 4' x 8' raised beds and even with two inch thick bricks, the covers blew off tossing the brick twenty feet into my garden. I do think this idea of trenching though has it's merits for the sprawled tomatoes The panels could be laid across the trench and fastened down with bricks during the early transplant stage would give me a couple of extra weeks for growing the cherry types. .

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

A couple of extra weeks is golden for tomatoes!

>> the covers blew off tossing the brick twenty feet into my garden

A trebuchet might have gotten more range, but they are designed for the purpose.

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