If there is one portion of the garden that always seems to intrigue visitors, it is the little section where we grow our popcorn.
At first, most touring the garden assume it is simply a few rows of sweet corn.
But then they glance down and see the little “POPCORN” sign in front of the two rows. And the questions and comments begin!
You really grow your own popcorn? How does that work? Is it hard? How do you harvest it?
We actually look forward to all of those questions and comments during our tours. Why? Because we love spreading the word about growing popcorn.
Quite simply, it is one of the easiest and most beautiful crop to grow in a garden.
And for more than just the delicious and nutritious popcorn it produces!
The Incredible Beauty & Versatility Of Growing Popcorn
Popcorn is tremendously simple to plant, grow and harvest. But for us, it serves an wonderful second purpose as well.
Not only do our two rows of popcorn we plant supply us with an entire year’s worth of popcorn, they also help us decorate the farm every fall.
We actually use our dried popcorn ears to add fall color all over the farm.
They are perfect for hanging on our barn doors as decoration. And we love placing them with pumpkins and gourds for table displays too.
And this year, we were rewarded with a harvest that produced some of the most colorful and beautiful ears ever!
We grow three varieties of popcorn : Dakota Black, Strawberry, and Ladyfinger. And all three had a banner year in the garden.
We were even rewarded with a special fourth variety from seed that obviously crossed last year between our Dakota Black and Ladyfinger.
The resulting speckled ears created what we now call Dakota-Ladyfinger. And they are actually quite attractive.
We also planted a new seed this year called Glass Gem. The kernels are simply beautiful, and really do look like pieces of colored glass.
The funny thing is that some say it is a popcorn, and others say it is simply a dent-style corn.
It will be interesting to see if it actually pops. But even if it doesn’t, what a beautiful ear of corn! (Seed Link : Glass Gem Corn Seed)
Growing & Harvesting Our Popcorn Crop
Popcorn is planted identical to a crop of sweet corn. And much like sweet corn, it is sown in late spring, as soon as the soil temperature has warmed up.
As spring turns to summer, the popcorn grows just like an ordinary crop of corn would.
But instead of harvesting juicy sweet kernels to roast or boil in the middle of summer, popcorn is instead left on the stalk to dry.
And as it dries, it creates some of the most beautiful ears of corn you will ever lay your eyes upon.
Ears that can first be used to decorate, and then shelled later for making delicious popcorn. Talk about a win-win! (See : Homemade Popcorn Recipe – No Special Equipment Required!)
The Popcorn Harvest
We leave our popcorn ears on the stalks until early to mid September. As soon as the stalks turn brown and dry off, it is time to pick.
For the ears we don’t decorate with, we simply husk and hang in a mesh bag in the barn to dry.
Popcorn usually needs about a month or so once picked to dry completely on the cob. And then you simply shell it, store it, and pop it whenever you want.
Usually by the time Autumn comes to a close, we can shell the corn we used for decorations along with the corn drying in the barn.
We store our shelled corn in mason jars with a lid. It keeps easily for a year or more.
We always select the best ears of each variety, and then use seed from those cobs to plant the following spring for our new crop.
Here is to growing your own amazing crop of popcorn – Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.
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