European explorers first learned about popcorn from Native Americans, but there is evidence that popcorn was actually around long before that. Fossil corn pollen has been found in Mexico City dating back 80,000 years! Whatever its origins and however long it has been around, popcorn is definitely one of the most popular snack foods in America.
Popcorn is not only a tasty treat, shared by many families while watching a movie on television, growing it can also be a fun gardening activity – one that you might want to get the whole family involved in, especially if you have young children.
To begin with, you will need popcorn seeds. Seeds can be purchased from most home gardening seed catalogues but it is also possible to use popcorn bought from your local supermarket. If you do decide to purchase your seeds from the supermarket, make sure they are plain popcorn kernels and not a microwave brand. You cannot grow microwave popcorn. Once you have your seeds, you will also need a glass jar, paper towels, soil and water.
Your next step will be to soak a few paper towels in water and then put them inside your glass jar. In the jar and on top of the wet paper towels, you will then place a few popcorn seeds. Next, place the jar in a spot where it will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. The seeds must be kept relatively warm at all times.
Over the next few weeks, you should see the kernels start to sprout and grow. If, at any time, the paper towels get too dry just add a little water to moisten them. Once the kernels have started to sprout, you can move them into a pot with soil. The soil should also be kept moist at all times. Once the soil in the pot is thoroughly warmed, the popcorn sprouts will be ready for transfer to your garden. Before transferring the plant, however, be sure that threat of frost is completely gone. Wait at least ten to fourteen days after the last spring frost before transferring your plant to your garden. It takes approximately ninety days for a popcorn plant to mature entirely.
The popcorn should remain in the garden until the stalks are brown and dry. Once they are completely dry, remove the ear by twisting and snapping the husk from the stalk. Next, you must carefully remove the dried husk from each ear. Cure the kernels by spreading the ears out and placed in an area where they will have warm air circulating around them.
Once the kernels have been curing for about a month, you can pop out the kernels from the ears simply by twisting them until they drop out. Your homegrown popcorn is now ready for eating and you and your family are in for a real treat. Whether you put a special topping on your popcorn or sticking to the traditional butter and salt topping, you can be sure that this popcorn will be some of the best popcorn you’ve ever tasted!