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Although corn seeds may be planted directly into the ground, some gardeners opt to start their seeds indoors, particularly in areas where cold temperatures linger in spring. In those cases, the gardeners will end up with small plants, called corn seedlings. These plants will typically need to be planted outdoors when there is no longer a threat of a cold frost or freeze.
The process of planting corn seedlings might be considered rather lengthy. The process typically begins by exposing the corn seedling to the outdoor elements in small doses. It is usually recommended to set the trays of seedlings outside for no more than a few hours at a time. In addition, the corn seedlings should not be in a windy area or in an area that receives full sunlight. Until the seedlings are ready, the heat from the sun and even mild winds could damage or kill them.
In a prepared garden, complete with growing soil and nutrient-rich compost, the gardener should dig holes that are just deep enough to fit the roots of the corn seedling. Once the seedling is gently removed from its starter cup, it can be placed in the hole. This process will usually include adding the remaining potting soil or starter soil from the starter cup to the hole. The soil from the hole will be used to surround the corn seedling, giving it a bit of support at its base.
Corn seedlings need plenty of space to grow well. In most cases, it is recommended to keep about 10 inches (25.4 cm) between plants. In addition, there should be about 3 feet (0.91 m) between rows. The seedlings should be watered frequently and should receive a light dose of fertilizer when they are about 2 feet (0.61 m) tall.
Corn seedlings also can become infected with fungi that are usually present in the soil. They can be damaged by blight and wilt as well, which often are brought on by beetles and other pests. Many researchers believe that healthy seedlings will be able to fight off diseases while less healthy specimens or those that have been put through stresses may not fare so well. Common factors that can stress corn seedlings include using too much fertilizer, pesticides or insecticides.
Some types of corn seedlings may be planted earlier than others. In addition, some varieties are easier to transplant into a garden than others. As a result, it is best to consult a home garden center or do a bit of research to find the best variety for a particular geographic area.
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