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Enjoying the Fruits of our Labor

December 31st, 2011

I mentioned earlier this fall that I grew popcorn in the potager I share with my mom. I’ve grown ‘Strawberry’ Popcorn before, which produces tasty little deep red ears of corn that are beautiful while growing in the garden and after harvest. The seeds for this variety were from Botanical Interests. This summer I decided to try ‘Pennsylvania Butter’ which I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Our popcorn from this year has been up the attic drying since we harvested it a few months ago. We usually save it until winter and shell it while we’re watching a movie. We ran out of the popcorn from the local farm earlier this week, so we spent an evening shelling our homegrown popcorn.

One of the best things about growing your own popcorn or sourcing heirloom popcorn from a local farmer is the taste. Once you make the switch you’ll be wondering why you ever ate the plain yellow popcorn from the store, which tastes kind of like puffed corn cereal. If you’ve never eaten heirloom popcorn I’d highly recommend giving it a try, but be warned, you’ll never be able to eat regular popcorn again!

The weather this past summer was not kind to corn, we didn’t even think we were going to get any for the pantry. About fifteen percent of the ears were moldy because it was so wet towards the end of summer, luckily the rest was fairly nice. The ears were rather small, but I wasn’t home to give them a dose of fertilizer in August. Next time I grow popcorn I’ll underplant with clover to provide lots of nitrogen and add some kelp at planting time. Considering it was only my second year growing popcorn I was impressed with my harvest.

I’ve had a few questions from readers about making stovetop popcorn, which is the only kind we make here since we don’t have a microwave. It tastes so much better than other cooking methods and it’s a great way to add some extra coconut oil and pastured butter to your diet (if you haven’t heard about how great these are for your health head on over to the Weston A Price Foundation and read a few articles, once you do you’ll be searching for ways to add them). There’s a how-to video over on the Your Day Blog so you can see how I do it. We’ve been enjoying some this week while we enjoy the 007 Days of Christmas!

Are there any harvests from your summer garden that you’re especially enjoying now?

Harvesting the Popcorn

October 13th, 2011

Last week my mom and I started clearing out the pottager that we share. The popcorn was the first thing to go, as it was ready to be harvested. This year I planted ‘Amish Butter’ popcorn from Southern Exposure. I also planted ‘Genuine Cornfield’ bean, a special variety of shade tolerant pole bean to grow up the corn.

I was hoping to harvest the pole bean seeds to reuse, but they had just started to bloom and there were only a few small green beans on them. I picked the few beans and the plants were added to the compost pile, along with the corn stalks. The beans grew well in the shade of the corn, they just didn’t have a long enough season or the weather wasn’t right for them this year

All the ears of popcorn were harvested and thrown in the attic for a week to dry a little more, they were already fairly dry at harvest. A week later, I shucked them and laid them out on racks to dry further.

We got some pretty nice looking popcorn. It was interesting to see the difference in size and quality of the ears. Some were beautiful and perfect, while others were tiny. I’m not quite sure what happened here, perhaps I should have thinned the corn more, or maybe a little more fertilizer should have been applied since corn is a heavy feeder and they were planted in a new area of the garden. Next year I plan on experimenting by spacing them a little farther apart and planting clover underneath them as a nitrogen fixing cover crop.

All-in-all I’m happy with our harvest. Mr Chiots and I occasionally enjoy popcorn as an evening snack and it’ll be nice to know I grew it myself every time we pop a batch. I hope this popcorn is as good as the strawberry popcorn we grew two years ago. With the amount we harvested, we should have enough popcorn for the next two years.

Do you grow corn in your garden? popcorn, field corn, or sweet?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.