Contrary to popular belief, it is incredibly easy to plant, grow and harvest a large crop of popcorn in your own backyard. You’ll be filled with a sense of awe and amazement when watching your corn pop and develop into a scrumptious snack once it has dried.
Not only is it tasty and healthy, but growing your own popcorn is also highly impressive as most people are surprised when they find out that popcorn grows in a similar fashion to traditional sweet corn. The average visitor will assume that sweetcorn is exactly what you’re growing and will undoubtedly be amazed when you reveal that you have your very own popcorn farm!
The kernels and cobs are allowed to stay on their stalks during late summer and the summer breeze will harden them into an incredibly healthy crop during the process. This delicious snack contains antioxidants and it is also an incredible source of fiber.
The entire grain crop is the perfect choice for those who are dieting or looking to curb their calories whilst still treating themselves. This is because a single cup of butter-free popcorn contains less than forty calories. There’s also the taste as any pre-packaged popcorn is impossible to compare to the fresh flavor of home-grown popcorn.
There are many varieties of unique popcorn varieties available for you to grow. These range from ladyfinger and glass gem to strawberry and shaman’s blue. There are also copious amounts of stunningly tasty heirloom varieties available for you to grow. All of these will leave you wanting more and you can experiment with the different types of crop that you choose to grow. Best of all, it is an incredibly easy crop to harvest.
How to Grow and Harvest Popcorn
Popcorn differs from the six other forms of corn as it contains a unique starch in it’s kernels which pops into a fluffy treat when dried and heated with oil. You can also use coconut oil to heat your popcorn to make it extra healthy! Popcorn seeds should ideally be planted in the late spring as the soil will be warmer.
If you plant your popcorn too early then the seeds may struggle to begin the germination process. In order to avoid them rotting, you should ensure that the temperature of the soil has heated to at least 60 degrees. This rule applies to all varieties of corn seed and isn’t just specific to popcorn.
The key to success when growing a popcorn crop lies in good pollination. The best way to ensure that this process occurs is to plant your popcorn crop in a block formation as opposed to laying them out in extended rows. This is because popcorn will rely heavily on wind for it’s pollination, these plants have both male and female varieties and as the wind travels through the tops of the crop, pollination will naturally occur from one plant to another.
If you plant in a single long row, your chances of effective pollination are greatly impaired. For the best results, you should plant your popcorn 4-6 rows wide as opposed to planting them in 3 long rows. If you grow sweet corn as well as popcorn then you should ensure that you are separating your crops as they may cross-pollinate if they are located near to one another.
The result of cross pollination will mean that your crop is far less tasty so ensure that you keep a minimum of 50 feet between your differing crops when planting the seeds. Once you have chosen the correct location, create rows that are approximately 18-24 inches apart. If you want to keep your planting straight and effective, then use some string tied to two stakes at each end of the rows.
You can create the rows by using a mattock or a hoe and plant your seeds at a depth of 2 inches. Popcorn is an incredibly heavy feeder and absorbs a lot from the soil bed so adding an inch or compost into the row will also help to improve your chances of your popcorn absorbing all of the healthy nutrients from the soil.
Next, you should plant your popcorn seeds into the layer of compost and plant them about 4-6 inches apart ensuring that they are nestled into the compost. The seed depth in the compost should be 1.5 from the soil’s surface to ensure maximum efficiency and germination.
Maintaining your crops on a regular basis is essential as weeds are the biggest enemy of popcorn crops. If weeds are allowed to grow unruly and wild, they will rob your crops of the vital nutrients that they need to flourish.
Therefore, you should keep an eye on your rows during the first six weeks of growth and remove any weeds when spotted. Adding shredded leaves or grass cuttings is a brilliant way to ensure that keeps are kept down and these will also add additional moisture to the ground. Once your popcorn begins to grow larger, the stalk’s foliage will maintain weed growth naturally and keep it at bay.
You should use approximately 1 “ of water on a weekly basis in order to grow your popcorn to its maximum potential. However, bear in mind that once it has established itself in the earth, it will rarely need additional watering.
Always ensure that you are supplying additional water to the seedlings during early growth if you are experiencing any extensive period of dry weather. Maintaining a vigilant eye on your crops will only help to ensure that they grow with vitality and this will ultimately produce a healthier, tastier result that is guaranteed to impress your friends and family alike!