Looking like a thick-stemmed giant grass or sturdy bamboo, garden varieties of maize are grown for the sake of the delicious cobs of tight-packed seed which follow the long flower plumes. These heads are gathered before the seed becomes hard, boiled, and eaten as ‘corn in the cob’ – a highly nutritious, if uncommon, vegetable.
Uncommon, that is, in this country. The plant grows 4 ft. or 5 ft. high and is for warm districts only. A sunny, sheltered spot is needed for the production of the cobs. Unfortunately it is not suited to a wind-swept allotment. It also needs moisture and a rich soil.
Varieties include Sutton’s First of All, Sutton’s Early Sugar Corn, Carter’s Improved Sweet, Early White, Golden Bantam, Golden Giant.
Those who desire a little change occasionally, are not afraid to experiment, and have the space to spare, might try a small packet of seed. Germination takes only a few days, and is advanced if the seed is sown in warmth.
Ready for Use. Given a hot summer, cobs are fit for gathering in August and September.
A shallow soil is unsuitable. Ground needs to be dug 18 in. deep and packed with leaf-mould, rotted weeds and similar greenstuff, or manure.
When and How to Sow.
Seed is sown outdoors in May, 2 in. deep, the seedlings to be thinned out finally to 18 in. apart. Thinnings can be transplanted if lifted with the trowel from moist ground. In a warm greenhouse or sunny frame seed may be sown in April, 2 in. apart and 1 in. deep, in pots or a shallow box filled with leafy soil; the plants to be hardened off gradually for planting outdoors in full sun.
Late May is early enough for planting out glass-raised seedlings. A depression 2 in. deep and 8 in. in diameter is left around each plant, for watering. Liquid manure given every ten days produces strong, quick growth.
Cutting the Cobs.
The heads, ears, or cobs are gathered when the corn or seed is fully developed, but before it becomes hard – that is, when the cobs feel firm and not spongy when pressed. They are cut from the stems with a knife. The rest of the plant forms useful cattle fodder.
Preparing for Table.
The outer sheath and fibres removed, the cobs are ready for boiling; they go to the table whole, usually on pieces of toast. Food value is considerable.