First of all, this corn is GORGEOUS!! It was so fun to grow, and so fun to harvest. Unwrapping each husk was like opening a present – each corn ear had its own rainbow of colors.
As a family, we eat a lot of popcorn. It’s one of my personal favorite treats, especially with a glass of red wine and some chocolate.
I wanted to try my hand at growing popcorn for two reasons. One – like I said, we eat a lot. Growing our own is inexpensive compared to buying organic, non-gmo popcorn at the store. Two – I can’t resist trying my green thumb out on a new plant!
Starting Popcorn Seeds
I started these popcorn seeds in a seed tray in early spring. This wasn’t recommended on the seed packet, but I wanted to give my seeds the best chance of growing “knee high by Fourth of July”, This old saying was the only goal I really had when I started these.
I’d never used the 72 plug trays before. They’re nice because you can start a huge amount of seeds in a very small space. BUT you have to transplant quickly or else your seedlings will get rootbound.
After three weeks they were ready to transplant. In fact, they were beginning to yellow which told me their roots were exposed to air. They’d grown through all the soil!
Once I planted them in the ground (and labelled with my home-made upcycled plant labels), they bounced back quickly!
Before I knew it, it was October and they were taller than me!
Companion Gardening – Beans & Corn
I didn’t really plan it, but my beans found my corn and became the best of friends! As the corn grew taller, so did the beans. The beans’ little purple flowers brought lots of bees and they were both happy.
Turns out, Native Americans have been using Companion Gardening techniques with corn and beans forever, adding squash to create “The Three Sisters”.
The Three Sisters work together. Squash vines act like mulch, and their poky leaves keep scavengers out. Corn is the pillar, creating structure for the beans to climb. Beans bring nitrogen to the soil, benefiting all three of them.
The Iroquois are considered the founders of Companion Gardening. Their ancient planting techniques, like much of their sacred knowledge, still holds true today. Many botanists have gone on to discover other symbiotic plant relationships that are worth knowing about in the garden. I hope to learn more about Companion Gardening in my upcoming Master Gardeners Program.
We had a really big harvest, though I had to throw almost half away due to ants! Another bunch of them didn’t develop all the way and had some weird patches or were runt size.
Total harvest, I think we got about 20 ears and about a pound of beans.
Popping the Popcorn
If you’re interested in learning how the popcorn ended up tasting, stay tuned! I’ll keep you posted when we try it.