Popcorn shoots — or microgreens — have a delicate sweet flavor. Grow them on a windowsill for fresh greens year round. Add them to salads, sandwiches, and wraps for a delicious crunch.
Try growing sunflower sprouts, too!
Years ago — and I do mean years ago — my friend Jody raved about something she called popcorn shoots. Technically, growing seeds in small amounts of soil like this is growing microgreens, but I digress. Jody just raved and I put them on my list of things to try, and then life happened.
Here’s what prompted me to finally try growing these popcorn sprouts: This post about growing microgreens and my current lack of fresh greens from the garden. And I’m here to tell you that Jody was right. Popcorn shoots are quite tasty! They’re a bit sweet and have a very subtle taste of sweet corn.
Does your homeowners association prevent you from growing food in the front yard? What if they never even KNEW? My ebook, The Edible Front Yard Garden will show you how!
Grow Your Own Organic Popcorn Shoots
Growing microgreens is an easy project, perfect for first time growers. For these, you’ll just need organic popcorn, an upcycled takeout or produce container, and some potting soil.
Choose organic popcorn. Non-organic popcorn may have been treated and could be less likely to sprout. The amount of seed necessary will depend on the size of the container you’re using. For a container like you see here (commonly used for strawberries), you’ll need about a half cup of popcorn.
Grow Some Greens!
Ready to grow fresh greens, no matter WHERE you live? Sign up for my
FREE quick-start guide and start growing some of your own food!
Choose a good quality potting soil. (No need for a special seed starting mix.) You’ll need about 2 cups of soil to plant a container as you see here.
This is where you can get creative. No sense buying special planting trays when you can use an assortment of upcycled containers! Use a small container as I’ve used here, a larger takeout salad container, or even a cut-off milk jug. Just be certain that the container has drainage holes.
Planting the popcorn
To plant the popcorn, fill the container with about 2″ of potting soil. Scatter popcorn over the soil in a somewhat solid layer.
Cover popcorn seeds with a layer of potting soil about 1″ thick. Soak the soil, allow to drain, and close the plastic lid. This helps to retain moisture until the popcorn shoots sprout.
Place the planting container on a tray to capture moisture and set in a sunny window. In two or three days you’ll see tiny popcorn shoots starting to appear.
Water as needed to keep the soil damp but not overly wet.
In another couple of days, the popcorn sprouts will be 2-3″ tall and ready to harvest. Don’t let them get much taller than that, or they’ll lose their sweetness.
To harvest, simply use scissors to snip them off at the base. And surprise! Those seeds will push out a second harvest in another couple of days.
Use these popcorn shoots as you would any other microgreen: Add to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Or do like I did and just snack on them plain.
For a continuous harvest of fresh microgreens, plant a new batch every few days. Or try alternating them with some other delicious microgreen options to have fresh greens in rotation all year long.
If you harvest more than you can use in one sitting, store shoots in the refrigerator in a sealed container. It’s easy to grab them out of the fridge to add to your favorite fresh salad or to top off a dish like grilled chicken or fish.
You can grow microgreens and sprouts year-round, but they have a special appeal during the winter months when fresh greens from the garden are a bit sparse. Other options for winter greens to consider:
Even when the garden is closed for the season, you can get your greens on!
- Upcycled container (salad tray or takeout container)
- Potting soil
- Popcorn seeds, organic
- Fill container with about 2″ of potting soil. Make certain that the container has drainable holes to allow excess water to escape. Scatter popcorn over the soil. In this case, don’t worry about overcrowding the seeds – the wee corn sprouts don’t mind being crowded. You want the seeds to be in a pretty solid single layer on top of the soil.
- Cover popcorn with a layer of potting soil about 1″ thick. Water thoroughly and close the plastic lid. This helps to retain moisture until the popcorn shoots sprout.
- Place in a sunny window, being sure to use a drainage container underneath it to capture moisture. In two or three days you’ll see tiny popcorn shoots starting to appear. Open the lid to give the growing corn sprouts room to grow.
- Water as needed to keep the soil damp but not overly wet.
- In another couple of days, the popcorn sprouts will be 2-3″ tall and ready to harvest.
- To harvest, simply use scissors to snip them off at the base. And surprise! Those seeds will push out a second harvest in another couple of days.
- Use popcorn shoots as you would any other microgreen: Add to salads, sandwiches, and wraps.