Popcorn is a beloved treat at our house. Have you ever tried growing, harvesting, and preserving your own? True Leaf Market has several popcorn varieties you could try. Popcorn is fun for kids and a great new challenge for any gardener. To grow your own popcorn, follow these simple steps.
Use Actual Popcorn Seeds: No, you cannot grow the popcorn seeds you can buy in the grocery store. Popcorn is actually different from sweet corn varieties.
Sow Corn With Several Rows: Like all corn, popcorn needs other corn to pollinate. Direct sow at least 4 rows 18-24 inches between rows 1 inch deep and about 6-8 inches apart. Be careful not to plant your popcorn within 300 feet of another corn variety or they could cross pollinate.
Thin Plants: At about 5 inches tall, thin plants to about 12 inches apart.
Regular Care: Follow the recommended water and fertilizing instructions per the variety you choose to grow.
Corn Matures and Dries: Let the popcorn stay on the stalk to dry as long as possible before freezing temperatures come. The husk will turn yellow and brown and you should not be able to press your fingernail into a kernel; otherwise it isn’t ripe yet. Be aware, popcorn takes much longer to mature than sweet corn.
Watch For Rain and Freezing Temperatures: If it’s threatening to freeze or if it is raining while the popcorn is trying to dry, harvest the popcorn and bring it inside to dry. Husk the popcorn and put the cobs in a mesh bag then hang to dry.
Test the Kernels Weekly: Once a week test the popcorn to see if it is done by popping a handful of kernels at a time. If it is chewy or otherwise doesn’t pop properly, it most likely needs more drying time. The popcorn is ready to store when the popcorn pops up crisp and fluffy.
Harvest Kernels and Store: When the popcorn seeds are sufficiently dry, remove the seeds from the cob and store in an airtight container.