Tag: Landrace Popcorn

Happenings Around the Homestead

Whew! What a week this has been! There isn’t much happening around the homestead, as we received a whopper of a snow this past week, which was followed by another snow, extreme cold temperatures, and then on Friday night into Saturday we had sleet, freezing rain, and rain. As I write this on Saturday morning, I suspect it is a terrible mess outside. There have been reports of folks roofs leaking, flooding due to drains on roads being clogged with snow and ice, and roads that are in treacherous shape. It doesn’t seem like it will get much better today, as I am expecting the temperature to hover right above freezing all day. By the time this post goes live, this will all be old news though, and we will be talking about the blustery cold temperatures Monday will bring us again. I am so ready for spring. ūüėÄ

I am sure many of you looked at the pictures I took, mostly of birds, last week.  I also took a few around the house of some monster icicles:

Monster Icicles #1

Monster Icicles #1

Monster Icicles #2

Monster Icicles #2

Monster Icicles #3

Monster Icicles #3

I just went out to check on the chickens, and wow it is messy.  The rain is melting some of the snow, and water is pooling everywhere.  It remains to be seen how this will be at the end of the day.

Oh!  I took a few pictures of my winter sowing project!

Winter Sowing - Peeking Through

Winter Sowing – Peeking Through

Winter Sowing Holes

Winter Sowing Holes

Even with a slow week around here, it wasn’t without some homesteading excitement though. I received a packet of seeds from Slovenia! These are minerature blue popcorn kernels (seeds). ¬†Check out the seeds and the envelope:

Minerature Blue Popcorn Kernels from Slovenia

Minerature Blue Popcorn Kernels from Slovenia

I know, I know. ¬†I am a bit weird to get so excited over popcorn kernels, but I am excited to incorporate this into my popcorn landrace. ¬†Aren’t those stamps cool too‚ÄĹ


Happenings Around the Homestead

Wow! ¬†I logged in today and noticed it has been nearly a month without a post! ¬†Needless to say, the last month has been very close to chaotic continually, and what little time I have had has been spent on living, not writing about living. ¬†ūüôā

Despite the chaos, I have had a pretty productive month or so around the homestead, mostly in planning for the upcoming gardening year.  By next week I should be able to share the plans for my garden for 2015, which will be a very different garden than any I have planted before.  You have already read of the Back-to-Eden style gardening change that has been made, but I am also planning on a much wider use of companion planting this year in order to get the most out of the garden.  More to come on this soon.

I was pleased this Christmas to get a few new yard tools that I have been wanting, including a pole pruner, a pruning saw, and pruning shears. ¬†The pole pruner is the only one of the three I have used yet, and it did great. ¬†We have a couple of pecan trees on our property, and one of those has branches that stick out above the power lines coming into our house. ¬†Twice since we have lived here those branches have caused and issue with our power after a winter storm and both times cost a considerable amount of money to fix. ¬†I was able to safely trim the branches back for the most part where they didn’t extend over the power lines. ¬†There is still one troublesome branch that is just a bit too high for me, but I may try to trim it back using a ladder on a warmer day.

The other pruning tools have a more interesting purpose.  I plan on pruning back my three fruit trees this year: two apple trees and a cherry tree.  I have been learning quite a bit about pruning, and I think I am ready to give it a shot.  More to come on this as well.

Finally, I have been blessed to already receive numerous seeds for the next growing cycle.  Today I am hoping to take some macro photographs of the seeds to share their amazing beauty with you.  Who would have thought a seed could be beautiful?  Just wait and see!

Oh, did I already say finally? ¬†Hmm – I have one more thing. ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†First, let me begin by thanking those who saved babyfood/small jars for me. ¬†They have come in so handy. ¬†Several of you have asked what I am using them for. ¬†I grow popcorn, and I selectively save the seed from the popcorn in order to grow better popcorn next year. ¬†In order to do this faster and better, I need a controlled environment for the popcorn so that I can ensure all the corn has the same moisture ratio. ¬†Moisture is a key component of popcorn’s popping ability, and if I am going to truly save the best each year, I need to be sure the moisture is the same during the popping trials, which commence soon. ¬†So, here is a picture of the filled jars:

Jars filled with unpopped popcorn.

Popcorn Jars

Even though I have enough of these for this year, I still need about 300 more jars, so if you or someone you know is feeding a baby babyfood, I would love to have the jars. ¬†Even better are pimento jars or any other jar that holds about 4-6 ounces. ¬†Bigger or smaller also work, but I don’t want anything larger than a half-pint.

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been another slow week around the homestead, though we did receive two more loads of woodchips for the big garden project this year.  Now that I type that, I am not sure I have mentioned it on here before.  It is a unique way of gardening that people have been made aware of through a film titled Back to Eden.  Basically, the premise of it all is that you provide a ground covering, preferably wood chips.  The wood chips keep the ground moist and fertile.  While that is the elevator pitch about Back to Eden gardening, it is well worth watching the film, which is well put together and held my interest, which says a lot.

Regarding that, I am still trying to find good, composted manure to put as a base layer for the garden. The problem is threefold: finding it, getting it here, and having enough.  That reminds me, I need to call a friend this week, as he may have a source for horse manure, though I am not sure how composted it might be.

The garlic I planted a few weeks ago is starting to sprout, though it is tiny still.  The chickens are my big challenge though, as they seem to think it looks like fun to pull on those green garlic leaves.  Hopefully they will get tired of it before long, or at least long enough for them to get rooted well.

I have also been posting on Facebook about my need for small jars.  This is for an ongoing popcorn experiment.  I am growing landrace popcorn.  As part of this ongoing experiment, I need to save the best seeds from year to year, which means I have to test pop all the popcorn.  The seeds that are saved are those which are the best popping corn, though I strongly take the ease of shucking and the appearance into consideration.  The reason I need the jars is to ensure the water content of all the popcorn remains the same.  Yes, it sure is a lot of work, but it keeps my interest.  Regarding the jars, I am making progress.  I have already received a small number of babyfood jars, and my mom had some other small jars she gave.  I then had a friend let me know she is saving her jars for me, so it looks like I am on my way to having enough jars.  Thanks to everyone for the jars!

I think that is all for the week.  It will likely be slow for a few weeks until I start spreading the woodchips, then it will pick up again for a short stint before the winter slows things down until March or so.


Happenings Around the Homestead

Wow, the growing season sure is coming to a close quickly.  I noticed our tomatoes are starting to look very ragged, and the popcorn patch is now totally done.  In fact, I cut down the stalks yesterday, and layed them on the ground to start decomposing.  Even though the Cherokee White Flour Corn is not done yet, I also cut two rows of it down yesterday.

I do need to try to get some radishes and lettuce planted.  It is Sunday as I write this, and I may not update this post before I put it on the blog, but by the time this is published I hope to have started some of both to keep through the winter in a make-shift greenhouse.  I did that one year, and we actually ate fresh lettuce all day long, even though there were many days of very cold weather.  As I am typing this, I am convincing myself that I should probably go out and do that today.

Speaking of chores, I need to repot some of my mint. ¬†I have made square foot garden beds out of cinder blocks, and I grow mint in those cinder blocks, but it is obvious some of the mint plants need to be repotted. ¬†I think they are beginnning to look leggy and straggly. ¬†I generally use potting soil to fill the new cinder block holes, and I don’t think I have any right now, so I may or may not get to this over this weekend.

One of the other chores I have this weekend is to measure my garden beds. ¬†I have done this before, but honestly, I have no idea where I documented that. ¬†I’m measuring because I want to make better use of my space next year, particularly for the corn. ¬†Corn is a crop that suffers badly from inbreeding depression, and to prevent that you need at least 200 plants. ¬†If I plant the popcorn at the proper spacing, I think I can do that in one of my garden beds. ¬†The Cherokee White Flour Corn and the Cherokee Gourdseed Corn are a different subject. ¬†It seems for those corns to fourish, they need more space per plant, which I will seek to give them this year. ¬†To do that though, it will mean I may have to expand my garden or I may have to keep ordering some seed every year to ensure I don’t allow inbreeding depression with these plants.

Oh, that reminds me!  Let me show you one of the Cherokee Gourdseed Corn cobs:

Cherokee Gourdseed Corn

Cherokee Gourdseed Corn

Look at those kernels! ¬†It looks nothing like any other corn I have seen, and it is supposed to make some a-maizing ūüôā cornmeal. ¬†It is also supposed to be very easy to shuck, though I might not know that for a few more months. ¬†Who knows though, if I get impatient enough, I might find out in a few weeks. ¬†ūüôā

Speaking of corn, I am way behind and I am still testing popcorn from last year. ¬†As I type that, I am sure you are wondering what I mean, and I am probably needing to write a post on that sometime. ¬†For now, just know that I am testing my popcorn for poppability and other factors. ¬†I then only save the seed from the best of it, which makes for better popcorn year over year. ¬†At this rate, I will not be done testing 2013’s corn until sometime in October. ¬†I am going to be more concerted in my efforts with this year’s crops though, and I will try to be done testing it by the end of this year.

Wow, this post is already getting a little long and there is so much more to say. ¬†I’ll just have to save that for later.

Happenings Around the Homestead

One of my favorite things to do, usually, is walk through the garden in the morning.  I love the cool of the morning, the dew on the ground, and the quiet.  It is a real source of enjoyment for me.  However, I do NOT like walking through the garden at 7:00 AM when the humidity is high and the temperature is already warm.  Unfortunately, that happens sometimes, and Saturday was no exception.  I knew I had some work to do in the garden, and I was so hoping for a cool morning, but alas, that was not to be.

The tomatoes seem to be on their last leg now.  The plants are looking quite haggard, and the tomatoes themselves are not even as appealing.  In fact, the chickens were able to dine on several of them today.

The corn is getting most of my attention this year, and today I harvested several ears I hope pop well, as I would love to get their coloration worked prominently into the popcorn seed.  Let me show you four of them:

Landrace Popcorn

Look at this beautiful white kernel licked with flame-like colors!

Landrace Popcorn

More of the flame-licked colors on this cob, and I love the variety of colors.

Landrace Popcorn

I am confident this one has some glass-gem corn mixed in with it, and I like it. I love the greens – they are a rare treat in my seed stock.

Landrace Popcorn

More flame-licked colors. This one looks a lot like some seed stock I saved last year, which I am sure is what has pollinated all of these. I sure hope this pops well.

Look at that last picture a little closer.  See the red kernel just to the right of the middle?  See the spots?  I wonder what they are.  If you look at the one below it, the purple one, it has the same spots.  Even so, these kernels are things of beauty!

Believe it or not, we have a winter squash plant that is growing like gangbusters!  I doubt anything will come from it, as it has yet to set fruit, but it was a late starter, and it happens to be the only winter squash I have that survived the squash bugs and squash vine borers.  I sure would love to get some seed stock from it.

Sweet potatoes are a new crop for me, and even though I grew some last year, I cannot remember for the life of me when to harvest them.  I think it may be after the first frost, but I need to look it up.  I am so hopeful that I have a good crop of sweet potatoes.  I grew purple and white sweet potatoes, which taste very similar, though the purple ones are generally more dry.  Even so, I enjoy them.

Usually at this time of year I am not yet thinking about next year, but it sure is on my mind this year. ¬†I think it is because I didn’t do such a good job getting the garden out on time this year, and I am hoping to redeem myself a little next year. ¬†ūüôā ¬†It won’t be long until I start planning. ¬†Until then, I have a few other projects I am working on which I will be sharing here, including a homemade smoker and a homemade dehydrator.

How to Waste Your Time Planting Corn

I have always had a fascination with gardening, but it wasn’t until the last ten years or so that I really got into it. ¬†Even so, I am reminded how little I know year after year.

Last year I got the idea that I wanted to plant Landrace Popcorn. ¬†I’ll probably tell more about that sometime in the future, but in essence it is open-pollinated popcorn from which seed is selectively saved year after year. ¬†That is definitely an oversimplification, but it is enough for now. ¬†Last year I also planted Glass Gem Popcorn, which is absolutely beautiful, but almost worthless as a popping corn. ¬†Here, check this corn out!

Glass Gem Popcorn

Unfortunately, I didn’t time these crops very well and they cross pollinated, affecting the quality of my popping corn.

This year I tried again, but low and behold, my interests in other things were sparked again, and while I didn’t grow Glass Gem Corn, I did grow two ancient corns that are flour corns. ¬†I meticulously planned the dates each would mature, and I was sure I would avoid cross pollination this year. ¬†Wouldn’t you know it, one of the ancient corns matured at exactly the same time as the Landrace Popcorn. ¬†GRRRRR!

In an effort to stem the damage, I have been attempting to hand pollinate the corns, though I found out last night that I am not really doing this the right way, so there is no telling what I will get.  My guess is the seeds from this corn will probably be useless next year, but I suppose I can consider myself fortunate because I learned something from it.  While the wind was low this morning I walked through the garden attempting to hand pollinate better and I shook the stalks, hoping to spread the pollen on the corn while it was less likely to cross with the other.  Only time will tell if I was successful.