WooHoo! It’s National Popcorn Day! When I am done sharing with you here, I will be popping a big bowl of popcorn and opening a can of pop–one of my few indulgences these days.
My popcorn is extra special because I grew it myself on the south side of my house. I’d been having a hard time growing anything but hardy flowers and weeds there because of the big black walnut tree growing on my neighbor’s side of the property line.
The elderly lady who used to live in the house next door used to allow me to cut the grapevines and other invaders out of our shared property line. I misidentified the black walnut sapling and allowed it to grow until it was too big to cut down without a lot of trouble.
As the black walnut grew ever larger and it’s dripline and feeder roots reached out in all directions, the juglone it was injecting into the soil made it harder and harder to grow the sun-loving vegetables I wanted in that lovely south bed.
Finally, I did a bit of research online and found out what vegetables I could grow near a eastern black walnut tree. I decided to plant popcorn.
I wish I had taken more pictures when we were growing our crop of popcorn because it was quite a project. (It took all three of us to successfully grow that corn, and I had no extra energy to take pictures!)
It isn’t that corn is hard to grow. It was just that corn is delicious at each stage of growth to some wild animal or bird.
I had good germination and pollination, but we have a lot of corn-eating pests, so we had to fence and cover the bed with wire until it germinated and then cover it with bird netting held down with numerous rocks and bricks as it grew taller. The raised bed soil was deep and loose, and we ended up having to prop up and support the corn which got blown over in a couple of storms. Later, I covered and stapled a brown paper bag over each cob to foil the small birds that were stripping the husks off the cobs and devouring the kernels.
One day, my daughter and I found one of those bags laying on the front steps. I picked it up and looked inside and found a bare corn cob! My daughter commented dryly, “Oh, look. Someone had a sack lunch.”
Eventually, most of the corn matured, and we figured out when to pick it and how to cure and store it after I did a little more research and found this great YouTube channel on gardening–ourstoneyacres. I even had my husband make me the simple wooden tool to get the corn off the cob without tearing up my hands.
The popcorn popped up really nice. It had a smaller popped kernel than larger commercial varieties but a nicer taste and melt-in-the-mouth texture than store-bought popcorn.
We are enjoying the fruits of our labors now that the snow is falling, but I think I am going to grow some snap beans, kale, parsley, onions, and leeks in that bed next year. Too many critters love corn! Begonia