Growing the Corn

"And who will help me grow the corn?" "Not I" said the pig.

Plant your corn about 1 foot apart. Do not try to plant closer than this and in fact, plant your corn a little further apart if you can. Trust me on this: If you plant too close together, you will get spindly plants that cannot stand up under their own weight. Corn typically takes a little over two months from planting to harvest.

Here in southern California, I can get two crops in: The first is planted in mid to late April and the second can generally be planted in July. I've harvested as late as early November. A good rule of thumb is to plant no later than mid-June.

I just poke the seeds in the ground and I seem to get 100% germination. You can germinate your seeds before planting if you like, but I've not found this necessary. Alternatively you can plant a lot and then thin the plants to the desired density when they sprout. If you get directions with your seeds, follow them. If not, water them every day the first couple of weeks or so (until they get to be a few inches tall), and then 3-5 times a week until harvest. They need good drainage. Pay attention, follow your nose and give them what they seem to like. They like Miracle Gro a lot. Snails and slugs really like corn plants (the plants themselves when they are young, the tassles when they sprout ears), so watch out for those disgusting lumps of animated snot.

Harvest your corn when the tassles are well-dried and the husks themselves have turned brown. Some sources recommend that you actually allow the ear to dry completely on the plant. However, I've heard local stories of both birds and rats really digging ripe corn, and so I've never tried this.

There's no real reason to use unusual (to us) maize from far away places that are not Iowa. Grocery store variety yellow corn might just make a great chicha, but the differently colored exotics seem to me to be not only more appropriate, but, well, more exotic. Also, by growing your own, you participate in every aspect of the making of chicha, and this just has to please Mamasara.

For some quick additional info try Growing Sweet Corn. A link to a much more detailed site is available below.

Back to the Chicha Page.