How do I Grow Popcorn Kernels?

popcorn image by Eric E from

It's a healthy whole-grain food that's also a tasty, crunchy snack. Not many people think of growing their own popcorn, but it can be a useful addition to your garden and an educational experience for your children or grandchildren. Popcorn is grown in blocks, in the same manner as sweetcorn, to insure pollination for all the stalks. Set aside a square of land in your garden this spring and you can snack on popcorn all through the winter.

Dig your popcorn patch in well-drained soil after all chance of frost has passed. Dig down 8 inches and remove all rocks and roots that you find. Add 4 inches of compost and mix it in with the soil. Add a 1-inch layer of fish meal or blood meal to add extra nitrogen to the soil.

Plant popcorn seeds in four to six short rows. Popcorn is fertilised by the wind, so keep the rows short and closely spaced to help aid in fertilisation. Plant seeds 6 inches apart, and cover each seed in 1 inch of soil.

Water the soil over the seeds thoroughly, and keep the plants watered well throughout the season. Popcorn needs 1 inch of water per week, so set out a rain gauge or marked jar to measure rainfall. Add water each week if your rain doesn't hit the 1-inch mark.

Harvest popcorn ears at the end of the season when the husks have turned brown and are completely dry. Press a thumbnail into a corn kernel. If your nail doesn't leave a mark, the corn is ready to pick.

Remove the husks from the corn cobs and store the corn in a cool place with good air circulation. Pile them in baskets or hang them in net bags. Check the cobs every week to see if they are ready to shell. If the corn comes easily from the cob and the removed handful of corn pops easily, your popcorn is ready to shell.

Push the corn kernels with your thumb and roll the cob around in your hand to remove them from the cob. Wear gloves to do this to prevent sore thumbs. Store the shelled corn in jars with an airtight lid to keep the moisture content constant.

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