Growing popcorn from popcorn kernels is a good way to teach children how food is grown from seeds. Popcorn can be grown and picked in as little as three months. It should be planted in the late spring once the soil has warmed up. There are many different varieties of popcorn, and each produce a different taste, so be sure to try out the many choices on the market.
Before you plant popcorn kernels, decide what kind you want to grow. Tom Thumb kernels have the shortest growing season at 85 days and produce a traditional yellow kernel. The longest growing season at 112 days belongs to Shaman's Blue kernels, which have a purplish blue color to them. Mini-Blues, Mini-Pinks and Cutie Pops kernels each grow for roughly 100 days and come in blue, pink and multi-colors, respectively.
Popcorn kernels should be planted in the spring, while the soil is warm. If you put them in too early, the soil will be hard. Be sure not to put them in the ground too late, or you will not have enough left of the warm growing season to allow the plants to mature.
Popcorn does not need a deep layer of soil. Plant them between one and two inches into the ground. The plants will need some fertilization, however, to achieve the correct pH level, which is 6.0.
Plant them in short rows, creating a block. Four short rows is best, to create good cross pollination. Be sure not to plant them near any sweet corn you might be growing. If the two types cross pollinate, both crops will suffer for it.
Water your corn throughout the season and fertilize the plants. Weed them thoroughly to allow the corn to grow freely. If you allow the corn to get too dry, this can lead to a lower yield of corn as well as a lower quality.
Allow the corn to stay on the stalk until the husks are completely dry. They may turn brown, but that is fine. Once they are dry, pick the corn. Husk the ears of corn and hang them in a dry, warm place in mesh bags. Laundry bags work well.
About once a week, take a few kernels off of an ear and try popping them. If they do not pop, they are not dry enough. Once they are dry, they will pop. When this happens, scrape all of the kernels off the ears of corn and store them in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.