If you’re a gardener and you like popcorn, why not grow it in your garden? Sure, growing any type of corn plant takes up a fair amount of space. But it’s a fun crop. If you have children in the house, growing popcorn is a great way to get them into gardening. I can almost hear the popcorn kernels popping now!
Corn is among the most popular vegetables. The vast majority of homegrown corn is sweet corn. For the adventuresome gardener, growing popcorn can be a real late fall treat. Speaking of Fall, all corn stalks are great for fall decorating. And the ears of some colorful varieties are uded in Fall decorating, too.
To get started, all you need are some popcorn kernels (that’s right, they are seeds), and a little knowledge on how to grow popcorn. Then, after it matures, the final step is knowing how to dry the popcorn kernels for popping. To learn how to grow and dry popcorn, read on…
Are you ready to give growing Popcorn a try? Good for you!!!.
Did you know there are many different varieties of popcorn? While most of us never give it any thought there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Many varieties are distinguished by the color of the kernels. But once it is popped, the inside is white.
Yellow popcorn is by far the most popular variety. There are also white, red, blue, and purple popcorn kernels.
Mushroom popcorn pops big and fluffy. It resembles a mushroom shape.
Hulless popcorn is a bit of a misnomer. There isn’t a truly hulless variety. The kernels have a very thin shell. So, it just seems like there is no hull.
Mini-popcorn – The small kernels pop into tiny pieces. Some say it’s easiest to eat with a spoon!
Gourmet popcorn – Flavors or spices like garlic are applied to a good quality popcorn. Mushroom varieties are most often used. Gourmet shops will offer dozens of flavors along with a gourmet price.
It all starts with the right seed. Regular sweet corn seeds will not do. You need popcorn seeds to grow corn for popping.
You can buy seeds online or at your local store. It’s the way to go when you are looking for a specific variety. However, when you buy popcorn kernels for popping, they are the raw unprocessed seed. Plant them and they will grow.
Armed with the right seeds, growing popcorn is basically the same as growing sweet corn.
Leave ears of Popcorn on the plant for as long as possible. If the weather allows, leave them in the field until the husks are dry and papery.
There are two drying methods:
1. Hang Ears to Dry: Pull the husks back from the ears, to expose the popcorn kernels. Hang ears in a cool, dry place for at least 3-4 weeks. Before putting them away, remove a few kernels, and see if they pop properly. If not, they are not yet dry.
2. Slow dry in the oven: Heat oven to 200 degrees. Pull back and remove the husks. Place ears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven overnight, leaving the door ajar. Leaving the door ajar is important, to allow moisture to escape, so it doesn’t get too hot. Remove from the oven, and hang ears in a cool, dry place for 1-2 weeks. Try popping a few kernels before storing them, to assure they are dry.
Until the ear begins to form, corn usually experiences few disease problems. Occasionally a fungus develops at the ear. It is a black-ish, purple-colored glob. It grows in rainy weather. If corn fungus is present, remove and destroy the plant. Put it in the garbage and not in your compost pile where the fungus can harbor and be transferred to other crops.
Did you Know? That ugly, black-ish, purplish fungus on your corn stalk is edible. It is considered a delicacy to some. In Mexico, it is called “cuitlacoche”.
Plant Problems – Diagnosis, causes, and cures for many common plant problems.
Corn is at its best when the kernels have just filled out. It is best to pick the ears just before eating them. If you need to store it, harvest ears in the morning when it is at its peak sweetness. Do not shuck the ears, until ready to cook.
Corn is ready when the silk has dried and turned a dark brown.
If you are inexperienced at picking corn in the field, select an ear that looks ripe. Without taking it off the plant, pull the husk back, just enough to expose the tip of the ear. If it is not ripe, close it back up and tie a “twist tie” around it to seal out the bugs.
Pull ears down, while twisting, to break them off the plant.
It helps to hold the cornstalk with your free hand. This avoids breaking the stalk of the plant.
On the Grill: On those hot summer days when it is too hot to boil water indoors, try grilling corn. Just soak the ears, husk, and all, in a bucket of water for a couple of hours. Then, cook it on your grill, turning regularly. When it’s done, pull off the husk, eat and enjoy! Corn on the Cob, Grilled
Dried kernels can be stored on the cob, or you can remove them from the cob for storage. To remove them from the cob, rub two dried ears against each other.
Put kernels in an airtight, zip lock bag, jar or, plastic container. Store on the shelf, or in the refrigerator.