How to make popcorn kernels

Updated July 12, 2018

Popcorn kernels are the foundation of a tasty healthy snack. With a few square metres of garden space you can make popcorn kernels for your own use throughout the year. It takes nearly four months, but very little physical effort, to make popcorn kernels from seed. So make a container full of kernels to pop up into a delicious treat any time of the year. Enjoy the flavour of home-grown popcorn by using these steps to make popcorn kernels.

Plant popcorn seed 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches) deep and 5 cm (2 inches) apart in a minimum of three rows that are 40 cm (16 inches) apart. Choose a mid-May planting date or when the soil is warm and temperatures remain consistently above 4.5 degrees C (40F).

Water the popcorn two to three times a week to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Remove weeds from around the popcorn plants routinely. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser to each popcorn row once a month for three months.

Allow the popcorn stalks to mature a full three months and then reduce watering to once a week to allow the ears of popcorn to begin drying. Pick the ears off the stalks when the outside husks have dried. Pick popcorn ears before the husks are completely dry only if rainy weather sets in.

Remove the husks and spread the popcorn ears out on a flat dry surface to finish drying. Turn the ears over daily to facilitate even drying.

Test the popcorn by removing a few kernels, and try popping them over heat. When more than half of the kernels pop, it is time to take all kernels off all the ears of popcorn.

Remove the kernels by grasping the ear of popcorn tightly in both hands and twisting. Gather up all the kernels and place in an airtight storage container.


Avoid cross-pollination by planting popcorn on the opposite end of the garden from sweetcorn.

Things You'll Need

  • Popcorn seed
  • Water
  • Fertiliser
  • Airtight container
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About the Author

Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.