Introduction: Grow and Harvest Your Own Popcorn in 15 Fun Steps
Organic popcorn typically costs around $8 per pound. Why pay that much, when you could grow superior popcorn in your own garden? Corn is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Growing your own is an addicting hobby, and is a fun learning experience for kids.
Step 1: Choose Your Seeds
Choose a seed package that specifically says "popcorn." Only certain corn varieties are capable of popping into popcorn.
Step 2: Plant Your Popcorn
After the last Spring frost in your area, (the average last frost in the Willamete Valley is May 10) plant your popcorn seeds 1"-1 1/2" deep, 10"-12" apart. In order for adequate pollination to occur, corn is best planted in blocks, not in a single, long row. Pollination is the method in which plants reproduce. Corn is self-pollinated, with the aid of the wind. The pollen at the top of the corn stalk falls onto the individual ears of corn, and enables the kernels to form.
Step 3: Let Your Popcorn Grow
Keep your popcorn well-watered. In hot weather, your popcorn will need water everyday. Check the "days to maturity" on your seed package to see how long your popcorn will need to grow before it's ready to be harvested. Most varieties take between 85 and 120 days.
Step 4: Harvest Your Popcorn
Once your popcorn is mature, break the ears of corn off of the stalks.
Step 5: Remove Outer Husks (the Green, Leaf-like Wrappers That Cover the Corn)
Completely remove the outermost husks, and any husks that appear dirty.
Step 6: Pull the Remaining Husks Up to Reveal the Corn Kernels
Step 7: Remove the Cornsilk (the Long, Silky Fibers That Hang Out of the Corn)
Step 8: Gather Your Corn-drying Materials
You will need:
Step 9: Tie the Corn Husks
Gather up the husks on the top of your corn, like you're gathering hair into a pony tail. With a 10"-12" string, tie a knot around the husks.
Step 10: Hang Up Your Corn
With the same string used to tie the husks together, tie your ears of corn to the dowel. Hang the dowel in a dry place that gets plenty of air-flow.
Step 11: Let Your Corn Dry for 4-6 Weeks.
Step 12: Test Your Corn's Readiness
Remove the kernels from 1/4 of one corn cob. Pop these in your usual method. I prefer an air-popper. If your kernels don't pop, or pop into small, dense balls, then your popcorn is not ready. Wait another 1-2 weeks, and retest your popcorn.
Step 13: Remove the Kernels
Once your popcorn pops well, remove all the kernels from your cobs.
Step 14: Store Your Popcorn, and Enjoy!
Store the popcorn in airtight containers, or it will continue to dry out.