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Guide to Easy Hydroponic Corn


Want a real challenge? Try hydroponic corn. If you're bored with herbs and other small plants, you might warm to the challenge of growing your own tasty ears of golden sweetcorn in a hydroponic setup.

Again, as with lots of hydro crops, this is easier than some people make it sound. That's not to suggest that corn is the easiest crop to grow well -- it's not. But there's not an inherent challenge in growing corn in a hydroponic way. Innovative growers have found this out as they add corn to everything that they put into a hydroponic greenhouse.

Here's an easy way to setup a hydroponic corn garden and experiment with some early crop cycles.

Supporting the plant

One of the first steps to easily putting corn into a hydroponic garden involves looking at how it’s grown in soil and building on that concept.

With that in mind, one of the best ideas is to create a simple bucket system. It's this easy -- get a collection of 5 gallon buckets, and fill them with a simple grow media solution. Clay pellets are great, and so is rockwool.

You'll put corn seeds or seedlings in the buckets, and allow them to grow directly in the grow media. You'll add tubes to each bucket to get water into the bucket and then collect it. This type of serial drip system works well with corn, and it's something that a lot of growers have done in grow houses as they experiment with sweetcorn growing.

Set up Timing

One of the tricky elements is to set up a pump and figure out how much water your corn will get your corner in a given day. The crops will need a substantial amount of nutrient-rich water -- so do some experimentation and figure out whether you can automate water cycles or whether you have to do it manually.

Grow Lights

The corn is also going to need a substantial amount of light, which is why a lot of growers simply grow it in a greenhouse space. They might even supplement the natural sunlight coming in through greenhouse plastic with an interior grow light structure.

What Corn Eats

As with any kind of hydroponic crop, you can buy simple pre-packaged nutrient packages for corn. Put this into your reservoir and deliver it through the supply of water, and you're all set.

The disclaimer here is that corn can be difficult. It's easy to get moldy or mildewed ears if the humidity situation isn't right. It's easy to get undeveloped ears if you don't meet all the conditions that the corn needs. But that's not a challenge of hydroponics - that's the same challenge you can have growing corn in a small soil garden. It comes with the territory.

Don't Be Afraid of Ugly Corn

When you do get practically mature years of corn, they may not look like the corn that you get in the supermarket. They might not have even, uniform kernels that make it look like every ear went to an orthodontist.

That's the difference between factory-grown and home-grown food. Your ears will look more natural and more organic. If you love generic-looking produce, you might be a little afraid of your own corn at first. But don't be fooled -- the quality of homegrown food is often much better than the quality of what you buy at the supermarket.

If you're the adventurous type, try a few ears of hydroponic corn and you might end up developing this as part of your own garden plan.

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