Reasons You Should Be Growing Your Own Popcorn

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Growing Popcorn

Growing Popcorn

We still have so many crops left to harvest here on the farm that I struggle with the desire to just leave all of it out there and hide in the house. Most of it requires a fair bit of work on my part to bring it inside, all except for the popcorn. It is time to harvest the popcorn, but all I need to do is pluck it from the stalk.

Have you ever thought about growing popcorn?

Sure, popcorn is inexpensive and simple to get at your local grocery, but there are many reasons for growing popcorn!

Don’t eat Microwave Popcorn!

One of the most common food products that exposes us to damaging plastics is microwave popcorn. That oh-so-convenient bag is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is also found in Teflon coatings. It is easily absorbed into food (and our bodies) when heated, and the microwave is just about the worst place for it. PFOA has been linked in studies to infertility and cancer. (Read about more Microwave Popcorn Dangers.)

You Control How to Grow Your Popcorn

Popcorn, while not a GMO as of yet, is a heavily polluted crop. In order to grow it on a large scale commercially it requires copious amounts of toxic insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and fungicides. Growing popcorn means you now control all that.

Growing Popcorn is Cheaper than Buying Organic

Because commercial popcorn is polluted, popcorn is a food you should buy organic, and growing your own means it’s cheaper!

Your Fresh Popcorn will Taste Great

It tastes great! Fresh popcorn pops better and leaves less un-popped kernels.

Growing Popcorn is Fun for Kids (and you)

It’s fun! We grew two different kinds of heirloom popcorn this summer and the kids are so excited to strip the ears responsible for their winter snacks. This year we grew “Glass Gem” and “Bear’s Paw” from SeedSavers so we will have two different colors in the pan.

Growing Popcorn Connects Us with our History

Growing your own popcorn is also a great way to connect to history. Popcorn was enjoyed at the first Thanksgiving feast and was a staple of the Native American diet.

More about Growing Popcorn

Popcorn takes up some room in the garden and that’s the downside. You need to grow at least four rows that are about 36-inches apart. The husks need to turn completely brown before harvest. When ready for harvest, the kernels will be impervious to a hard-pressed fingernail.

We’ll shuck our popcorn and bring the ears in to dry out further for a few weeks. As winter descends and we find ourselves sitting in front of the television a bit more, everyone joins in the fun of rubbing the kernels off. This must be done with gloves to protect the hands.

All we need now is a hot pan with a lid and some butter!

So, today I’m off to pick the popcorn. And just so I don’t feel too lazy, I think we’ll cut down the stalks and make a corn shuck decoration for the front yard. Halloween is coming after all, and I can’t let anything in the garden go to waste!

Are you interested in growing popcorn? Have you ever done it before? Share your experiences below.


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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  1. Bonnie says

    Is there a benefit to hot air popping, or is it just an exercise in futility if the corn you pop isn’t organic or grown yourself?

    • Anita Hunt says

      If nothing else, you eliminate the oil associated with other popping methods. (Makes me feel slightly better about the butter I put on it). We use our old air popper for all our popcorn, homegrown or not.

  2. Jo says

    This was interesting because I just harvested my popcorn the other day! My mom used to grow it but this was the first year I ever did. Now we’re looking forward to shelling and popping it!

  3. Anita Hunt says

    I’ve grown popcorn for years. I used to grow sweet corn, but you have to harvest it at the right time, almost all at once, and I can get just what I need at the farmers market, so I went to popcorn. We grow it by the “3 sisters” method, with 2-3 stalks planted in hills with dry beans and winter squash, which benefits all the plants and means the space between isn’t wasted. When it’s time to harvest the corn, the squash and beans are also ready, but there’s no mad rush. And it’s yummy and fun!

    • Dawn says

      Hi Edie,
      You can find some basic instructions under the heading “More About Growing Popcorn”. Anything more specific than that will require you to get a seed packet and read the variety specific instructions. Good luck!!

  4. Randa Sharpe says

    Hello, Dawn. Your story is intriguing.y family and I are about to move to a seventeen acre farm from suburbia. In order to keep taxes low we have to get animals and/or grow crops. Can you suggest some starting ideas for complete rookies? Thanks so much.