This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

my first popcorn harvest


I think my popcorn is ready to harvest! I harvested a couple ears to check. I picked four that looked like they had bug problems. (Most of the crop looks much better.) The four ears look really good to me. I just chopped off the wormy tips. I'm really impressed. The kernels are nice and hard, but the husks are only just starting to dry. I'm hoping get over to the garden today to pick more.

I think I need to let it dry before popping it. I'll try a test kernel soon.

Here's the information I found at U Wisconsin Extension.

All that is required to grow popcorn for home use is adequate space and a little gardening know-how. Maturity is important in variety selection because popcorn that does not reach full maturity before frost will have very poor quality. It is better to plant several short rows side by side than one long row. Also, do not plant sweet corn and popcorn in the same garden. Popcorn requires adequate nitrogen and should be fertilized accordingly.

Harvest popcorn only after the kernels are hard and the husks completely dry. After picking, remove the husks and store the ears in bags that allow air movement so ears can dry. Each week, shell a few kernels and try popping them. When they pop well, shell the remaining ears and store in moisture-proof containers. Because popcorn can become infested with several types of insects, refrigeration is the best long-term storage.

Determining if moisture content is optimum for the best popping volume is a difficult problem. If the popcorn is "chewy" after popping, it is probably still too wet; so allow the kernels to dry some more, popping a sample every couple of days until the flakes are no longer chewy. Popcorn that pops poorly with many unpopped kernels is probably too dry and needs moisture. Start by adding one tablespoon of water to a quart of popcorn, mix well a couple of times that day, then after 2-3 days try popping another sample. Continue this procedure until the popcorn pops well.

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Blogger Karen said...


September 02, 2009 11:21 AM

Blogger pjkobulnicky said...

Very Nice Kathy.

I don't do corn anymore but I do recall, as you point out, that for small quantities block planting is superior to rows since corn is wind pollinated and thus a block will take wind from any direction better than a row. Also, small varieties are better than tall ones since they are less likely to be blown down in winds and rain. Here too, the block planting gives them mutual support over the row.

September 02, 2009 2:20 PM

Blogger Chiot's Run said...

I can't wait to harvest mine, I grew strawberry popcorn this year. I got mine planted a tad late, so I'm still waiting for the husks to dry.

September 02, 2009 3:34 PM

Blogger said...

They look gorgeous!

September 02, 2009 7:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy - very nice ears and the picture looks delightfully autumnal (especially as today's temp here hit 108 in the shade on the patio). Will you be sharing popcorn with Skippy?
- Daisy in AZ

September 02, 2009 8:39 PM

Blogger Dan said...

They look excellent. I bet they will be the sweetest popcorn you have ever had.

September 02, 2009 10:29 PM

Blogger Thicket Dweller said...


September 03, 2009 12:54 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Ah yes, I suppose Skippy will want to share. He likes it with extra butter.

I picked the rest of my crop today. About 50 ears. Most have worms :( I'll clean them up tomorrow.

September 03, 2009 1:05 AM

Anonymous Soilman said...

I'm intrigued by the worm problem. I've never had this on corn; my issue is rodents (rats and mice nibble the ends of the cobs) and birds. We have a colony of ring-necked parakeets in SE England which seem to love sweetcorn. I escaped their attentions this year, but fellow gardeners haven't been so lucky...

September 03, 2009 3:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful!

September 03, 2009 3:42 PM

Blogger Karen Anne said...

When my parents bought local corn from stands when we were kids in the 50s, we were always cutting out corn borers or whatever they're called at the tips.

It didn't seem to matter to the rest of the ear. It was probably pre-pesticide use, and always makes me think, you know the borer lived when it ate this, you will too :-)

September 03, 2009 5:43 PM

Blogger kathy said...


I'm glad you're intrigued by the worms - I'm disgusted by them. Maybe I'll get a good photo with my close up lens. (Yuck..)

Sounds like maybe they are Corn Ear Worms. (Very descriptive.) "Corn ear worms are 1- to 2-inch caterpillars that are green, yellow, pink or brown with a white stripe and black legs. They pupate into tan-colored moths with a 1 1/2- to 2-inch wingspan." If I get that photo and can bear to look at it, I'll know.

Also sounds like there are several organic controls. Next year....

September 04, 2009 4:17 PM

Anonymous how to start a vegetable garden said...

I wasn't aware that you did not use just regular corn to make pop corn kernels. How interesting! Homemade popcorn is my favorite, the store brands just can't compete

November 18, 2009 7:07 PM


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