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Maize

Sweetcorn

See it in the our fruit and vegetable garden - the Potager

Maize or Corn (Botanical name - Zea mays) is a type of grass originally cultivated for its seeds.  It was originally farmed by humans about 9000 years ago in Central America. 

Cultivated extensively throughout the Americas it wasn't until the 15 and 16 century's, after contact with Europeans that the plant was introduced to other continents. Today it is one of the most widely grown crops in the world with China and USA being the biggest producers. 

Increasingly large amounts of farmed maize are genetically modified to increase pest, herbicide and drought resistance with large quantities of the harvested crop being used as a biofuel.

As well as the familiar sweet corn, popcorn and cornflakes, maize has an astonishing variety of modern uses which utilises all parts of the crop. Examples include Maize flour (main ingredient of tortillas), corn-starch, corn syrup, bourbon whiskey, and livestock fodder. Starch from maize is also made into plastics, fabrics and adhesives.

Sweetcorn is easy to grow at home, seeds should be outside in May (maize doesn't like frosts) somewhere sunny and sheltered with plants about 45cm apart. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks of rows rather than a single row. Sow two seeds per hole and remove the smaller one if they both germinate.  Seedlings will look like single blades of grass when they first appear.

After that, keep the plants weed free and watered in any dry spells especially when they produce their tassel like flowers. They should be ready to harvest in August or September.

 

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