Run the sharp edge of the hoe approximately one inch below the soil, cutting the roots of the weeds. Avoid cutting the corn plant or its roots. Keep the hoe at least 4 inches from the corn plant, moving the hoe horizontally below the soil surface, parallel to the row.
Weeds can be a major problem in a corn patch. They compete with corn seedlings for nutrients, water and light. Hand pulling weeds or cultivating with a hoe kills the weeds and increases the corn crop without introducing chemicals to your food. Work in the morning on a sunny day when the soil is dry. The afternoon sun will kill uprooted weeds quickly. The right hoe and good technique keeps a corn patch free of weeds without breaking your back.
Scrape away weeds, upending the plant and exposing the roots. Plants that have been uprooted will die. You can leave them between rows to eventually disintegrate and replenish the soil, or rake them up when you have finished hoeing. Hand pull any weeds that grow too close to the corn plants.
Grip the hoe with both hands, as you would a broom. Stand up straight with your feet comfortably apart. Avoid bending or leaning to prevent back strain. Hoe the area directly in front of you, as far as you can comfortably reach, before moving down the row. Keep the hoe away from your feet.
Put on gloves to prevent blisters on your hands.
Begin weeding and hoeing the corn patch as soon as the seedlings emerge. Weeds are easier to eradicate while they are small, before the root systems have had time to develop.
Work your way down the rows, cultivating each row before moving to the next. If you stop before you finish the entire garden, start your next session where you left off so the entire garden is weeded before beginning again.
Now all that’s left is to water and watch the corn grow:
What varieties of corn do you grow?
Sprouting & Thinning
Do not be discouraged! You can take care of this easily without hoeing, tilling or hand-pulling (oh, and this prep method isn’t just for corn, this is how you proceed for any no-till beds, too).
If you have empty spots in the rows, could you transplant some of the little seedlings that you thin out into the empty spaces?
Maintaining The Beds
But they didn’t!! Corn is a shallow rooted plant, so that wasn’t and issue, and over the growing season the cardboard broke down enough that the roots grew deep enough to hold the stalks up. And being heavy feeders, the stalks loved all that manure. We had a great harvest even in the first year and every year after that I use the plastic like I outlined – and have never had lots of weeds to deal with!
Site your corn patch in a sunny, wind-protected area. Corn is an extremely heavy feeder, especially on nitrogen, so it thrives in a place where soil-enriching crops like beans, hairy vetch, or clover grew the previous season, or add 20 to 30 pounds from the compost pile per 100 square feet to the soil as you prepare it for planting.
In order to produce kernels, wind must deposit pollen from the tassels (plant tops) onto each of the silks on the ears. Every unpollinated silk results in an undeveloped kernel. If you’re planting only a single or double row of corn plants, you can improve pollination by transferring pollen from tassels to silks yourself. Collect pollen as soon as the silks emerge from the ears and the tassels have a loose, open appearance. Wait for a morning when there’s no breeze, and shake the tassels over a dry bucket or other container to release the pollen. Collect pollen from several plants. Immediately transfer the pollen into a small paper bag and sprinkle the powdery material onto the silks of each ear in your corn patch. Repeat once or twice on subsequent days for best results.
Animal pests can seriously reduce your corn yields. Birds may be a problem at both seeding and harvesting time, while raccoons are fond of the ripening ears.
Hand Pollinating Corn
Corn smut makes pale, shining, swollen galls that burst and release powdery black spores. Cut off and dispose of galls before they open. If necessary, destroy affected plants to keep smut from spreading. It can remain viable in the soil for 5 to 7 years.