The conversation sort of went like this, “What are you writing about this week, mom?”

“Popcorn,” I said.

“You can’t grow popcorn; it comes in a bag.”

Oh dear, it has been a while since I have raised popcorn on the farm, but I see I have an opportunity to share just how fun raising this staple snack food can be with at least one of my children. Popcorn is very easy to grow and is a fun thing to do with kids whether their your own or grandchildren. There are many different varieties of popcorn to try and some of them will actually have different colored hulls, which makes for an interesting snack too. The kicker here is that yes, you must make the popcorn the old-fashioned way, in a skillet with hot oil and not in a microwave. If you have not tried this at home, this may be your year to give it a go.

Popcorn is like ornamental corn, which was at one time called Indian corn. The biggest challenge is that it takes time so be prepared to get it planted as soon as the soil is warm enough to take the seed. Popcorn can be dried practically right on the stock and stored in a dry spot in your home in a container or stored in the freezer.

They generally need about 100-110 days to go from seed to the final product. The kernels popped can vary from quite small to quite large. There are several varieties out there to try. They include yellow and white hybrids, Puffy Pop, Japanese White Hulless, and Strawberry. There is also a variety called Miniature Rainbow. There are also several heirloom varieties that are wonderful to try as well. My personal favorite is Strawberry. These are cute little cobs of red colored corn that the hulls are red as well. The Miniature Rainbow has very small ears as well but the kernels are different colors. The husks are colored too. They are all raised about the same way as any field corn or sweet corn.

Pretty Pops are also something for the gardener to consider. This is actually a miniature Indian corn which can be used for drying and then used just like popcorn. What a really pretty snack that a person can make in the middle of January when it is too cold outside!

The heirloom varieties are pretty neat too. I think that some of the heirloom varieties of any vegetable or fruit has quite a bit more flavor than most other varieties. Dakota Black is one of the heirloom varieties. The hull is a dark purple color which makes it look like it is black in color. This is about a 95-105-day corn too. Glass Gem is another heirloom type variety of popcorn which can also be ground into corn meal if needed. This one, just as its name suggests, is sort of glassy in how shiny it is. There is also another heirloom variety called Dynamite. I am wondering if it is “explosive” when you pop it? I think, however, that the name is reflecting on its taste more than anything.

You will find that you can find these varieties either in catalogs or online. They are super easy to grow and a lot of fun for the whole family to enjoy during the next round of winter months. For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com