Growing good sweetcorn in the UK can be a bit of a gamble. Until now I have only found one variety Swift F1 to be consistently good, ripening early enough for harvesting and sweet tasting. However I’m always a little reluctant to grow F1 varieties which will not breed true to the original plant and therefore you cannot keep your own seed.
However, I tried a new variety last year called Damaum. This is a fairly recent breeding from Europe which is open pollinated and therefore any seed that you saved would breed true. Cobs will be ready about 95 days after sowing which means a Mid April sowing will be ready from the beginning of August and successional sowings can take you to the first frosts in October.
Having grown Swift for a while I have been used to small, individual sized cobs. Damaum however is a much larger mouthful, although the breeder describes it as “smaller than later varieties”. For eating fresh however this is the perfectly generous size, where as larger ones would need to be split in half or stripped from the cob.
Flavour wise I was really impressed. I had a little crossing with a maize variety grown close but it didn’t seem to affect the taste. Juicy, sweet and well able to compete against Swift. This is definitely a variety to consider growing.
In the Kitchen
Damaun is a sweet variety of corn, designed for eating fresh rather than dried/popped. The best way to cook it is grilled whole with a little butter on a BBQ or under a grill or lightly boiled for a few minutes and served with butter or Chilli and lime. If you do not want to eat them whole then slice the kernels off with a sharp knife running down the side of the hard central core. Use in salads, stir fries, Chilli or chowder. You could also try Thai Corn Cakes (Tod Man Khao Pod), Corn cakes with mango salsa or pop some in Quesadillas.
I rarely have enough corn to do this but you can freeze blanched corn. Removed from the cob, cook in boiling water for a minute and then run under ice-cold water until cool. Dry and lay on a tray in the freezer until frozen, then bag up as required.
Yield and Plant Health
You will get 1-2 large cobs per plant, possibly 2-3 in the south of England. Plants are quick to mature and fairly easy to germinate.
As you can see from the photo this has crossed very slightly with my glass gem corn which was planted a few meters away so if you can do not mix with other varieties however as a non superset variety, Damaum will be less affected however the breeder recommends not growing Maize closer than 500m away.
Damaum has real pests and diseases in the UK other than birds and mice can attack ripening corn so you may need some protection as they begin to ripen.
Sweetcorn is from South America and is used to much hotter climates than ours. It is not frost hardy and also does not like root disturbance so it is important you do not start too early or else risk your plants turning up their toes!
Sweetcorn is wind pollinated. The spikes at the top of the plant pollinate the tassels on the cobs which are situated lower down. Each tassel leads to a kernel and each one needs to be pollinated for a full cob. Because of this it is better to plant sweetcorn in blocks rather than rows to maximise pollination so when choosing how many kernels to sow, think about how it will fit in to a block. You will get roughly 70-80 % successful germination of standard and enhanced sweetness varieties and less of super sweet.
Sweetcorn needs a sunny sheltered spot with free draining but nutrient rich soil. In winter give the spot where they are to grow a mulch of compost or manure and then dress with blood fish and bone meal in spring.
If you are happy to protect your outdoor crops from frost then sow one block, a month before your last frost date which in the UK usually means making a mid April to early May sowing. Sow one kernal, 2 inches deep in root trainers or a 3 inch pots. Water and keep in a warm place like a heated propagator or airing cupboard until germination occurs which should be in 7-10 days. Ensure the compost is moist but not soggy. Once germination has taken place then move to a sunny but frost free spot until plants are around two inches high.
Start to harden off by placing outside during the day in a sheltered spot and bringing back in at night. Continue this for a week.
Once plants are roughly 3 inches high then you can plant out in blocks, each sweetcorn 20-30 cm apart. Water well for the first week until they are established and then generously once a week. If there is any risk of frost or windy weather, cover with fleece, lifted off the the growing corn with hoops or sticks.
Repeat sow every two weeks up to early June. You can direct sow once soil has reached 10c but will need to protect your seeds from mice who look at them as a tasty snack!
Around three weeks after you first see the tassels developing on the cobs, check to see if they are ready by peeling back a bit of the husk and pierce a cob. If the liquid runs cloudy it is ready. You should be harvesting from late July to September with successional sowing.