garden fresh popcorn


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gretta's popcorn hand in the bowl

Popcorn! I’ve never made popcorn straight off the cob before. But its great. This ear was in my winter CSA distribution. I pushed the kernels off into a Whirly Pop. Added a bit of oil and heated it up. They popped fast. Salt and butter. Yum. A fast snack for the kids after a good hike in the snow.

whirlibird popper

I’ve wondered about growing corn in my small garden. There’s nothing like fresh summer corn eaten right after you pick it. But it seems to take up so much space. And I can usually buy it pretty fresh here mid summer, so maybe there’s no point to growing it. And now I have popcorn to consider. Nice to have a garden fresh snack for the kids. Organic and all that. And much easier to pop than I expected. If only I had unlimited space and time I’d grow everything…. Maybe I’ll squeeze in a short row of popcorn to the garden plan….

Popcorn (Zea mays averta)

19 Comments. Leave new

  • I remember as a child eating pop corn grown out of the garden, if I recall correctly the seed was from Stokes. It was pretty fun. I think my sister must have wanted to grow it though as I am not the biggest pop corn fan. The cobs are certainly very attractive with their pearlescents.

  • Was it worth the garden space?

  • If you do decide to grow corn of any type, my wise elderly gardening neighbor taught me to always plant at least two, but preferably three, rows of corn, no matter how short. He insisted that it was necessary for proper polination, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read the same advice elsewhere…

  • I’m thinking that since I’m in a community garden and there’s lots of other people growing corn that maybe I don’t need to worry about that? Maybe I can grow a few plants?

    I wonder how close I need to be?

  • I can’t really say if it is worth the space as I was maybe 11 at the time. I was more the helper and eater. I do remember it produced a couple cobs per plant. I would give it a go if you have room.

    Laney is correct, you have to plant two or three rows as it is wind pollinated. The good thing is you can plant them close together. You can also plant them in blocks instead of rows to save space.

  • Corn is wind pollinated, so depending on the prevailing winds, and the position of your plot compared to the rest of the plots, you might be able to get away with jut planting a single row.

  • You could try the three sisters method for your corn:

    Which could make it interesting for you to plant some corn in your garden (when I have a garden I’m definately trying this method).

  • MarianLondonUK
    January 25, 2009 11:02 AM

    Morning Kathy, I have grown corn in my garden 8 plants 12″ apart (should be 18″) but it was fine. Had 3 corns per plant it was delicious to get the water boiling, pick, cook and eat oozing with butter. As Collin above says I used the 3 sisters method to utilise maximum space, I grew dwarf french beans around one row and a couple of courgette plants under the other.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  • I don’t have the space to grow corn, but its funny that you posted this, as last night I had a horrible craving for popcorn – and I don’t have a local source! I am hoping this summer to get some corn and save the kernels from that, but for now, jealously shall rule 🙂 There are a lot of advantages to the community garden system it seems….

  • I tried corn in my community garden plot, too, and thought it took up too much space and blocked out the light from a lot of the other plants. I might grow it at home this year, along a warm wall or something.

  • Super!! I LOVE the 3 sisters idea. I have a big bed allocated to squash. I can add corn to this. I suppose the third sister is beans. I will read up on this method. I’m excited about a great new topic to learn about and try out.

    I saw a three sisters field in mid season a few years ago at Plimoth Plantation. I’m sure there’s lots of information available on line. A classic companion scheme.

    Thanks again for the idea.

    Then the next decision will be to go with sweet corn or popcorn…. I’m leaning toward popcorn.

  • We planted strawberry popcorn last year. I kept it separated from my sweet corn. I planted the popcorn next to the house, and sweet corn farther in the veggie garden. Popcorn stays shorter, so it worked out well on the sunny side of the farmhouse where I grew up, and it also looked nice too. I would plant it in a block to ensure proper pollination and keep it far enough from any sweet corn, so you don’t get a mix. It was quite fun. My girls checked the small ears often, and loved how the kernels changed to a beautiful red, which intensified after drying. It was definately worth the effort, and I’ll plant it again this year. As already stated above, you can plant corn pretty close to save room. Have fun. My Mom used to talk about the 3 sisters, I think I have a book somewhere, I’ll have to dig it out!

  • I forgot to mention the Hopi Indians. I watched a Nat. Geo. special on them, and how they farm. They placed a handful of kernels in a somewhat deep hole and they grew very tall and strong. It sort of resembled tall pampas grass in appearance. It was very pretty. I’m sure the heat helped, but the soil looked pretty barren and dry. I might try to plant some blue corn this year, using that method just to see what happens!

  • Mmm…looks warm and tasty!

  • a delightful sight for a snowy sleeting day! Great fun I’m sure.

  • How do you push the kernels off? I want to grow popcorn!

    Corn is definitely worth the effort.

  • To get the kernels off, I just pushed with my thumb, starting at the pointy end. They came of fairly easily. It was an interesting sensation to feel them push off in succession.

    I think the comment about corm blocking the sunlight is something to think about. Though the spot I have in mind is at the far north side of my garden. I think the shorter popcorn would be best for me to try first.

    I haven’t placed my last seed order yet – I’m waiting to order from Sand Hill Preservation Center in case I think of things I’ve forgotten. So I will add a pkg of popcorn to the list.

    I love their description “Popcorn usage and notes: Ornamental as well as very tasty. The old fashioned types have better flavor, but pop up smaller than the modern hybrids. I, too, fell victim to the microwave popcorn generation, partly out of convenience. I took the time one day to read the label (even on the light versions) and realized, like most convenient foods, it is the coating – not the product – that had the flavor. (Modern broiler chickens are another example.) With over 30 open-pollinated varieties in my collection, I decided it was time to do a better job of promoting better quality food. Yes, most of the popcorns we carry are ones that pop up smaller, but they are tasty with no coating, not even salt. So, give the old-fashioned ones a try. What a nutritious diet food when air-popped with no added salt or butter! It is filling, tasty, low in calories and has 0 grams of fat.”

    They list 13 varieties. Now my challenge is to pick just one (or maybe two…)

  • I tried growing corn last year (my first garden) and didn’t have much luck. I think my soil was crappy, that, and all that rain we got in New England in the spring. But I WILL try again this year. Last year my stalks grew to between 3 and 5 feet. And the ears never matured. One ear got about 3/4’s of the way, so I broke it off and went inside to boil it up. It was the best damned corn I’ve ever tasted!! LOL. There is “fresh” and then there is “FRESH”.
    Kathy, love that popcorn cooker! I have one just like it; bought it from QVC.

  • HI Dawnie, Even a partly matured home-grown ear is better than anything else! Great. Good luck with your corn next year. I remember how bad a field of corn near here looked last year. I think probably a bad year and next year HAS TO be a lot better.


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