A man named Enrique taught us this trick for planting corn. Previously, we’d just planted it, covered it with dirt, and then watered it every day — which led to highly irregular sprouting, and some unfortunate kernel-rotting, too. (Our soil has a fair bit of clay, so it crusts over easily, and I think the corn had a tough time breaking through.)
This technique — “la sistema Mexican,” as Enrique (who’s from Mexico) called it — seemed to help the corn sprout more quickly and evenly. It’s also easier, because you never have to water!
1. Hoe out a trench, about 6 in. deep in the center.
2. With a hose, fill the trench with water. (Note: if your ground is sloped at all, this is easier said than done. On a slight slope, run the hose from the top of trench, and do it a few times, switching frequently so the water doesn’t overflow at the lower end.)
3. Leave trench overnight. In the morning, test the trench to see if it’s wet enough: you should be able to easily stick the top section of your finger (to the joint) into the soil. If not, give it a little more water before planting and test again.
4. Sow your corn the recommended distance apart, and press each kernel gently into the soil with a forefinger.
5. Cover corn with approximately 1.5 inches of wet soil from the sides of the trench.
6. This is the fun part: now walk on the planted corn, carefully placing your feet heel-to-toe for maximum coverage.
7. Top off with 1/2-1 inch of dry soil.
8. Voila! You don’t have to water your corn again until it sprouts.