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  • In the Garden: Cloudy with a Chance of Confusion August 29, 2014
    I met a new butterfly this week.  This particular butterfly is one of the skippers. Skippers are in the Superfamily Hesperioidea, as opposed to say, Swallowtails or Milkweed Butterflies that are in the Papilionoidea Superfamily encompassing Butterflies (excluding skippers). Skippers are a diverse bunch and often hard to identify. This skipper was rather larg […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Plants Beyond the Garden August 28, 2014
    I love having native plants in my garden. Every moment that I can do so finds me slipping into the garden to find a beautiful flower, a hummingbird sipping on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), an insect collecting food or collecting prey, and to listen to the sweet song of birds. As much as I love […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • When a Tree Falls in the Schoolyard August 25, 2014
    We had only one shade tree at our suburban DC elementary school, a 50ish-year-old pin oak, and it was cut down over the summer without notice. After the shock and swearing wore off, I started thinking about how we could use what remained. Almost anything can be turned into a lesson, including a prominently placed […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Stacey Evers
  • The Worms Crawl In but Do They Swim? August 22, 2014
    This week I noticed that there was some webbing on a Baldcypress tree I planted a while back. At some point my property was likely home to many of these trees as is evident by decaying knees I see when the pond level gets low.  These majestic trees require wet conditions during part of the year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Shrubs for Small Gardens August 19, 2014
    For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge. Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf […] We love h […]
    Karyl Seppala
  • Wildlife Deception as a Defense August 15, 2014
    Tanner, the English Setter was headed out for his afternoon stroll of the yard.  I saw something over behind a tall cluster of Bidens alba and it seemed to be thrashing.  Tanner zoomed on over and flushed out a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk flew off with its feathers somewhat ruffled in the quick getaway. Tanner […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Baldcypress Ecosystem August 13, 2014
    Birding in Delaware at Trap Pond State Park, a baldcypress ecosystem. After a wonderful trip aboard the Mummichog II for the Cape Water Taxi Ecotour to explore the ecosystem of the Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware, today we headed to southwestern Delaware to explore a fresh water ecosystem. Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Cardinal Flower August 12, 2014
      Hummingbirds love it. So do I. If it was a Corvette Stingray, the color would be called “Victory Red.” It is a blazing, brilliant, red, not often seen in a native plant. In the picture above, you see a sweat bee, using a leaf as a resting spot on the Cardinal Flower’s, Lobelia cardinalis, landing […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Raising Question Mark butterflies August 11, 2014
    Question Mark butterflies can be elusive if you don’t know how to attract them to your beautiful wildlife garden. They are drawn more to sap runs (often created by woodpeckers) and rotting fruit than the flowers in your yard. If you have a plum or cherry tree you may see these and other butterflies feeding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Judy Burris

#GardenChat

P-O-P Corn

The laziest man I ever met

put popcorn in his pancakes

so they would turn over by themselves.

W. C. Fields

Fresh popping corn bought from a local farmer each autumn has become a tradition for our family. Each Thanksgiving Day as we eagerly await the impending feast to be set upon the table, we idle away the time hulling colored popcorn kernels from dried cobs. It’s a chore that takes time and effort, especially because we don’t have the handy gadget that makes quick work of it, but it’s one we enjoy. It’s less like a burden and more like bonding as our family gathers around the popcorn bowl centered on the table; the warm and cozy kitchen permeated by the lingering scent of herbs, turkey and fruit pies.

This season our youngest son chose heirloom popcorn varieties ‘Strawberry’ and ‘Dakota Black’ to try growing in our home garden. Unfortunately the ‘Dakota Black’ was promptly devoured by a young bunny soon after it sprouted, along with our heirloom ‘Jarrahdale Blue’ pumpkin plants. The ‘Strawberry’ popcorn, however, was planted in a border outside of the garden proper, near the heliopsis and pear trees. It was only a small patch, but it did quite well.

Planted as all of our corn is, I left it pretty much alone the entire season. (My benign neglect wasn’t by choice, we had a crazy summer.) Thankfully the weather cooperated in July and August and the gardens had plenty of rain alternating with hot, sunny days as the corn tassled and the ears grew. September brought cooler temperatures and less rain, coaxing the corn stalks to dry a lovely golden brown… a sure sign it’s time to harvest!

After plucking the ears from the plants we peeled the husks back and were delighted to see small cobs of red popcorn shaped very much like large strawberries. After completely removing the husks, it’s necessary to further dry the popcorn while it’s still on the cob. Ours are in mesh bags that are hanging in the garage. It will take several weeks until the kernels are slightly shriveled and can be easily removed from the cob with a little pressure. I’ll pop a few kernels every now as a test until I’m sure they’re ready. To store the kernels, put them in a glass jar (like other seeds) and keep them in the refrigerator.

I don’t think we’ll be storing our small stash of popcorn for long and we’ll definitely be taking another family trip to the farm stand for more… after all it is tradition. Happy gardening!

Kettle Corn

  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. popcorn kernels
  • scant cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the popcorn kernels and sprinkle the sugar on top. Stir quickly and cover with a heavy lid. As the popcorn pops, shake the pan to keep the sugar from burning onto the bottom. Remove promptly from the heat when the popping stops, after 3-4 minutes. Turn into a bowl and toss gently. Enjoy!

9 comments to P-O-P Corn

  • Love the idea of growing pop corn. I will have to take a look at ordering seeds for next year. Thank you for listing their names! What a wonderful idea and I’m sure my kids would love it as well.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    I love the ‘Strawberry’ variety because the plants are only about 4 1/2′ tall… that makes it easy to tuck in a small patch just about anywhere in our yard! Have fun growing some next season and please let me know how it turns out! :-)

  • The community plot I took over had some popcorn growing in it. I was dubious about how it would taste but it was great. I didn’t have strawberry though, mine was a yellow corn variety. I will try growing again next year for sure.

  • I have never had fresh popping corn (especially the Strawberry variety). Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • Thanks Lisa – that’s awesome! Its never occurred to me to make my own popcorn – I’m going to have to try it out. How does it taste? Is it very different to the kernels we buy in the stores? (I’d imagine so, like everything else we grow of our own). Thanks for brilliant tips!

  • I love popcorn! We have picked it at a local farm fall festival. I know corn can be hard to grow. What size plot did you plant of your strawberry popcorn? Did you get a big yield?

  • I love those adorable little strawberry cobs- totally going to grow those this year!

    Thanks!

  • this is awesome! I love popcorn…and my kids all love kettle corn…I think I will be trying this!
    so glad I found your blog. You are a very sweet person. Bren has told me how kind and talented you are…I hope we can be new friends!

  • Awesome! Just planted and will bookmark this for harvest. Thanks!!!

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