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  • Just in Time for National Moth Week July 25, 2014
    The third annual National Moth Week is winding down.  This year it started last Saturday July 19 and runs through this coming Sunday, July 27, 2014.  The inaugural celebration was back in 2012 and I highlighted some of my favorite moths at the time in my weekly article. Moths serve as food for reptiles, birds […] We love hearing from you! Please click here t […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Buckwheat and the El Segundo Blue Butterfly July 24, 2014
    Nothing warms my heart quite like hearing the happy news that butterflies are flourishing~ somewhere.  Rarely do we get good news about our winged friends lately.  But this story is one of hope and promise! The El Segundo Blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni) is a pretty light blue butterfly that is found nowhere but in So […] We love hearing from you! Please c […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • The Wildlife Nursery July 22, 2014
      Gardening often provides the closest encounters we ever have with wild creatures.  It is a solace and a distraction in bad times, and a shared joy in good ones.  ~Ursula Buchan     When you establish a wildlife garden, you need to be aware that at some point in the spring, summer or fall you will […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Donna Donabella
  • The Good in Grapevines July 18, 2014
    I am sometimes dismayed by the rapid growth of my Muscadine grapevines (Vitis rotundifolia).  Then I spot a bird picking through them and I relax and am glad that I procrastinated on cutting back. Heck, this southeastern native vine can be cut back at any time. This past week I watched the cardinals dancing in […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • A Monarch Waystation in a Mall’s Landscaping July 17, 2014
    At the Healthy Living Market, which occupies the old JC Penny’s space in the Wilton Mall of Saratoga Springs, NY, there is a new Monarch Waystation site. I had the privilege of doing a landscape renovation to the surrounding island beds and sidewalk gardens this spring. We included many native perennials, and cumulatively the site […] We love hearing from yo […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Smooth Sumac July 15, 2014
      Just a couple weeks ago, some of the bushes along my woodland edges were abuzz with pollinator activity. The flowers of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, were the magnet.   Butterflies, including this Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops, were part of the crowd.   Honey Bees, gathering nectar, to help some bee keeper with his honey supply were also attracted. […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Sweet as honeyvine July 14, 2014
    This “weed” is a host plant Honeyvine milkweed (Cynanchum laeve) is a vigorous, perennial trailing vine that is native to our eastern and central states.  Some people consider it to be a nuisance “weed”, but I call it Monarch caterpillar food. Hardy hearts I like the honeyvine’s heart-shaped leaves and the fact that I never […] We love hearing from you! Plea […]
    Judy Burris
  • Yellow and Blue make Beauty in the Garden July 11, 2014
    When I see the bright yellow flowers of the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista* fasciculata) I tend to think of Sulphur butterflies because it is a larval host for several members of the Sulphur butterfly family. The other day I was out enjoying the diversity of insect activity on the Partridge Pea plants back in my pond […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Tracking Down a Lonesome Dove July 11, 2014
    Boy, were husband Matt and I baffled when a friend sent us this picture of a bird nest on the ground, with chick and egg. “What is it?” he wanted to know. “Precocious young?” That was our first thought when seeing a feathered youngster next to an egg—that “precocial” youngster already had feathers when it hatched. […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Sally Roth

#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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