See it in the our fruit and vegetable garden - the
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
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
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
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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