Some kernels of knowledge about corn

Garden Q&A

May 10, 2008|By Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld

Can I grow corn in a backyard vegetable garden?

You sure can. Corn pollen is spread by wind, so you'll get the best kernel production by planting corn in blocks of rows. You'll need at least three or four short rows, 2 to 3 feet apart. Sow seeds every 9 to 12 inches in the row after danger of frost has passed and soil is warm. Corn is a "heavy feeder." Fertilize when plants are 12 to 18 inches high and again when tassels appear. Do not remove suckers; they improve yield. Expect 10 to 20 ears per 10-foot row.

I want to add some natives to my flower garden. Are there native plants appropriate for a perennial garden?

Many popular perennials are North American natives. Try purple cone flower, beebalm, black-eyed Susan, golden rod, New England asters, moss phlox, garden phlox, butterfly weed, gayfeather, cardinal flower, evening primrose, Jacob's ladder, eupatorium and obedient plant.

Somewhat lesser-known natives that are wonderful additions include: goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus), Eastern columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), blue indigo (Baptisia australis), black snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa), turtlehead (Chelone glabra), yellow sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) and Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana).

Checklist

When you fill planting holes, first shovel back the uppermost soil that was excavated. This places the most nutrient-rich soil closest to the roots.

Do not use grub killer unless your lawn had about 12 grubs per square foot last summer. A few grubs are normal.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's help line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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