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By Beet 2021 07 July 30 Comments

There’s nothing quite like experiencing the festivities and food – especially the fragrance – of fresh popped corn. Whether buttered and salted, kettle, or as caramelized balls, popcorn is always devoured.
While you might not think of racing off to the nearest carnival, why not try growing a “cornival” in your own backyard?  No, we’re not talking ticket booths or entertaining rides, but something that’s definitely not only delightful but d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

It’s fun to harvest one of the most cherished comfort foods, popcorn. Watch a movie as a big bowl of your own freshly popped kernels fills the air with an intoxicating fragrance.

Archeological findings have documented traces of popcorn in Peruvian tombs dating back 1,000 years.
Despite its instant popularity, it’s likely the Iroquois started it all here in North America.

Unfortunately the story of popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast is as fictitious and full of air as a bag of microwaved corn.

The writings of French explorers recorded that the Iroquois popped tough corn kernels in heated, sand-filled pottery jars. As the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy spread through the Great Lakes region, it is likely that settlers in Vermont, Quebec and upstate New York took up this technique.

By the mid-1800s, families popped corn at home; mass consumption began in the late 1890s after Charles Cretors built the first popping machine. Many improvements led to superior steam popping. Consumption really catapulted once this corn could be had from horse-drawn wagons.

Unfortunately, today most people get their popped corn (some million pounds per year in the US) from the microwave. We have no idea what we’re missing until we plant our own popping corn.

This sensational snack is also quite nutritious as a whole grain that’s high in fiber and natural simple carbohydrates that quickly (albeit briefly) raise serotonin levels, leaving one relaxed with a mood lift.
So, aside from the superior taste, what better reason is there to grow your own?

From snowy white, brilliant yellow, and opalescent blue, to crimson red and multicolored rainbow ears, you’ll not be able to resist the multitude of colorful offerings. Some wonderful varieties are: Glass Gem, Heirloom Strawberry, Heirloom, Carousel, Shaman’s Blue, Snow Puff, and finally, Robust Yellow Hulles Hybrid.

Propagate your own popcorn the same way you would sweet corn except allow the ears to fully mature and harvest popcorn after the husks turn fully amber and dry.

The only thing not to do is simultaneously plant sweet and popping-type corn in your garden. Readily cross-pollinating, you’ll get the worst of both varieties when you go to pop the kernels: many unpopped kernels and tough sweet corn.

With that said, why not pop out and put in some popping corn so you can soon have some popped corn to grin about from ear to ear?

Seed sources

Victory Seeds

Strawberry. Glass Gem, as well a few other heirlooms

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Glass Gem, Strawberry, Dakota Black and Mini Blue

The Heirloom Popcorn Company

Many varieties, including Carousel


Recipe: Perfect stovetop popcorn

Tip: To store popped corn, place in a zip-type freezer bag and put in the freezer. Since popped corn doesn’t freeze, you can eat it immediately or warm kernels in a closed paper sack on the microwave “high” setting for about 1 minute.


2 tablespoons cooking type olive oil

1/2 cup fresh popcorn kernels, plus 3 to 4 extra kernels


In a large heavy-lidded pot, pour in oil and heat to medium high. Drop in extra kernels and put the lid on. When they pop, remove pot and lid (strain out popped kernels) then pour in ½ cup kernels, swishing them to get them all equally coated with oil. Replace lid and put pot back on heat. With lid slightly ajar (allows extra steam to escape), shake pot about every half- minute so kernels don’t burn and unpopped kernels cycle to the bottom to pop. When popping ceases, remove pot from heat and pour popped corn into a large bowl.


  • Season to taste with sea salt or other toppings such as:
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Sprinkle
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon matcha tea powder and sea salt to taste
  • 1 package spiced cider mix

A rose by any other name: Western Rose Garlic

By Beet September 2020 37 Comments

Gardening Gourmet

by Sydney Jordan Brown
Master Gardener 2000

A rose by any other name would smell like … Mama Mia! Now, “That’s Italian!”

Even if you’re not a resident of Italy or of Italian descent, you still can savor tastes and aromas of the most classic element of Italian cuisine, as well as of other countries’ famous cookery: garlic.

While this rose may not always be appreciated as a replacement for its classic tea rose counterpart, some people will be delighted to receive it as a gift. Garlic heads (bulbs) are quite appealing despite their distinctive pungent, but lovely, fragrance. Allium sativum, the binomial (botanical) name, means “pungent cultivated.”

Although Western Rose, a softneck subspecies (Allium sativum var. sativum), may not have petals, its fat cloves form a sizable bulb head larger than its relative, Silver Rose. Anyone who loves garlic should be proud to procure this wonderful bulb.

Even if you’re not a fan of this pungent vegetable that’s often considered an herb, your appreciation might change knowing the benefits this bulb offers.

Garlic has been widely used, medicinally and in food, since around 400 BC. Although debatable as to its exact origin, its wild form most likely originated in mountainous Central Asia and in some areas of China, India, Egypt and Ukraine.

Still not sold on including garlic either in your garden plot or on your menu? You might want to reconsider, given that garlic contains large amounts of sulfur compounds – such as alliin, and allicin – and amino acids, minerals, vitamins and more.

This powerhouse plant protects human bodies from free radicals and diseases including respiratory ailments.

Western Rose, like all softnecks, is a garlic variety with floppy stems. It was derived from hardneck garlic which have a rigid central stem.

Softnecks are not only more pungent, but don’t usually develop scapes (stems and buds formed on the central stalks of hardnecks). And, softnecks store longer.

Of the two softneck families, Artichoke and Silverskin, Western Rose belongs to the latter. It’s one of the longest-storing garlics, good to use up to 10 – or more – months. The head’s silvery covering reveals pink and rose-striped wrappers protecting 10 to 14 large, sharp-flavored cloves that surround a circle of smaller central cloves.

The last to mature of all garlic, Western Rose is a prolific grower here in the Northwest. They’re also a wonderful addition to lengthen your garlic harvest. Don’t love them yet? Your roses surely will.

Plant garlic 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes to maximize sizable root growth and little or no top growth. Tops that freeze will regrow in spring.

In well-drained soil with generous organic compost and full sun, plant one clove per hole 5” apart (pointy-tips up please!), 3-4” deep, in rows 8-10” apart. Hand water cloves until rain resumes in autumn until first frost.

Encourage rapid bulb growth by fertilizing twice (2:1 kelp and fish emulsion) and watering regularly. Stop watering in June.

Harvest in late spring-early summer when there are 5-6 leaves (each leaf means a layer of protective skin on heads) as one or two turn yellow.

So why not let this rose of another name find space in your garden’s heart and stake its claim?

Recipe: Roasted garlic on the grill

4-6 heads garlic, brushed free of dirt

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon chili lime sprinkle (Available at Trader Joe’s)

Mesh grill sheet or heavy aluminum foil (about a 12”-long piece of regular length heavy foil)

Heat grill to medium, about 350°. Spray grill sheet or aluminum foil with pan release.

Cut tops off garlic just enough to expose tips of cloves. Brush all with oil then sprinkle with rosemary and chili lime seasoning.

Place garlic, bottoms down, on grill. Cook for about 12-15 minutes depending on whether you want a clove that’s cooked but still whole or a softer one for paste to spread.
Squeeze heads with tongs to test for preferred doneness. When cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from head and enjoy on anything where you use garlic. Keeps about a month refrigerated or longer frozen.

Seed sources: Territorial Seed
, Dave’s Garden