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Growing Popcorn and Garden Rules ft Farmer Fred Hoffman

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Show Notes

Join Nicole and Farmer Fred Hoffman as they chat about how growing popcorn in your own backyard is possible. Also, hear Farmer Fred’s tips for beginning gardeners.

What You’ll Learn

  • Growing popcorn in your own backyard!
  • Growing popcorn is possible even for the beginning gardener!
  • How to harvest and strip kernels from the corn ears.
  • Where to find a good heirloom popcorn seed.
  • Get information to begin your own garden.

Our Guest

Farmer Fred is the son of a farmer’s daughter and has been a master gardener since 1982. He offers advice to beginner gardeners on the Farmer Fred Blog and is the host and producer of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, KFBK Garden Show, Get Growing with Farmer Fred, and the KSTE Farm Hour.

Resources & Links Mentioned

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    Announcer: 0:01

    Welcome to the Backyard Bounty Podcast from, where we aim to educate and inspire you by sharing practical information to help your homestead thrive. And now, here's your host, Nicole.

    Nicole: 0:17

    Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host, Nicole, and today I'm joined by Fred Hoffman, who's the host of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. And today we're going to talk about growing your own popcorn and a little bit more about some gardening rules. So Fred, thank you so much for joining me today.

    Fred 0:37

    Glad to be with you.

    Nicole: 0:38

    I'm excited to have you on the show. It was an honor, I was recently on your show to talk about backyard chicken winter care. And so now it's your turn to be on my show. And I and I appreciate it today.

    Fred 0:51

    Well, I'm glad to be with you too. I don't think I have as exciting of stories as you had about chicken coops burning down.

    Nicole: 0:57

    Well, that's probably a good thing. But can you tell us a little bit more about Farmer Fred, how did you get that name? What's your gardening experience? And then we can dive into popcorn?

    Fred 1:10

    Oh, you wanted to keep this at a half hour. But okay, I'll start. I am the son of a farmer's daughter. Even though I grew up in a city I sort of migrated to the country when I could afford to move to the country and, and commute to my job in the city. And basically, Farmer Fred has been an entity since about 1982. Offering gardening advice on the radio. I've been a Master Gardener here in Sacramento County since 1982, as well, yeah, Farmer Fred is just sort of taken on a life of its own. And basically I get paid to talk about gardening. And that's a very nice life to have. I've grown just about everything that we had for 26 years, we had 10 acres, where basically if somebody called the radio show and had a question about a plant, I would immediately plant that plant to see what it did for me. So I had all sorts of different plants I was growing in the yard just so basically, I could say to the callers who had questions, I feel your pain. And there's just so much out here that we can grow here in California. So we it's a it was a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and vines and flowers and things we grew but I've always loved popcorn. Ever since I could reach the stove top, I've made popcorn, and I found out a dirty little secret when I started ordering seeds from catalog to plant popcorn. Seed grown popcorn tastes a heck of a lot better than that stuff you find at a movie theater, or on the shelf at the supermarket. Real popcorn real heirloom popcorn has flavor as opposed to say all the taste of Styrofoam. And it is just very tasty. But it has its you know, little tricks to get it to grow correctly. But actually to grow popcorn. It's fairly easy.

    Nicole: 3:01

    You know, I have to unfortunately admit I've never had homegrown popcorn. And that seems very tragic.

    Fred 3:08

    It seems very tragic. Yes. And probably the closest you could come to growing something that wasn't factory farmed popcorn would be to look for there is one available usually in supermarkets of a good size. It's called Black Diamond Popcorn. And that is a it's a white holeless popcorn. I guess we should define popcorn, as being it's not sweet corn, it's popcorn. I'm amazed the number of people who have no idea where popcorn comes from. It is a field corn will not strictly field corn but it's grown in a field. It is not sweet corn, it is popcorn. And that's probably the biggest rule you got to remember when you plant popcorn seeds. Don't plant it anywhere near sweet corn because corn is a wind pollinated plant. And if the to co-mingle, you're going to either end up with sweet corn that's going to crack a tooth or popcorn that's mushy. So try to keep at least 500 feet or more separation between your sweet corn patch and your popcorn patch. There's yellow popcorn and white popcorn. Yellow popcorn are the popular varieties at the supermarket the jolly time. The Orville Redenbacher movie corn, for instance, is yellow popcorn. White popcorn is generally a little bit smaller. But you know something about the white popcorn is when you get one of those kernels in your mouth. It doesn't crack your tooth, you can actually bite into it. So it's edible. And it's just it just has flavor. I think maybe because the white popcorn is a little smaller, it's more concentrated and it has better flavor. I would recommend that people if they're a gardener and they want to plant popcorn, go to a good seed catalog that carries popcorn see one of the best is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and they have four different varieties of heirloom popcorn that they sell. They have Cherokee long ear Dakota Black, Dynamite, which is a yellow popcorn, and my favorite Pennsylvania butter flavored popcorn. It's a white popcorn. It is just so flavorful much superior to commercial popcorn. It produces white kerneled ears, you only get about two cobs per eight foot stock. And the ears are about six inches long. But it is just so tasty and it will get you hooked on white popcorn but especially this butter flavored popcorn from Pennsylvania, which is a by the way, the it's an heirloom popcorn maintained by the Pennsylvania Dutch. And it goes back to 1885. It is just so flavorful. So if you're going to try any variety, try that Pennsylvania butter flavored popcorn.

    Nicole: 5:50

    So you mentioned earlier that you live in California, is that a variety that would grow? Well, pretty much anywhere?

    Fred 5:56

    Anyplace you can grow corn, you can grow popcorn, when you look at the major popcorn growing states, it's Indiana and Illinois. So basically a place with long summers generally with popcorn, you want to plant it when the soil is very warm. So here in California, that would be sometime during the month of June or early July. And it's harvested around baseball playoff time when there's a normal baseball season. So that's like the first or second week of October. And the way to tell when it's ready to be picked. You look at the entire stock has totally turned brown, then it's ready to be picked. You can pick off those cobs. And then there's basically the harvesting the popcorn as far as what you do after that, it gets a little complicated, but it's not that complicated. I'll explain that a little bit later on.

    Nicole: 6:41

    Okay, so talking about growing the popcorn, he mentioned that, you know, it's not maybe the most prolific stocks. So how big of an area or how much do you recommend planting for somebody to have, you know, a decent amount of popcorn to make their crops worthwhile.

    Fred 6:58

    Probably the best piece of advice for growing any corn, sweet corn or popcorn. Don't plant them in a row, plant them in a block a square block, you get better pollination that way because as I mentioned, it's a wind pollinated plant, I would plant popcorn seed 12 inches apart, and maybe do 12 by 12. So that would be 12 feet by 12 feet 144 square feet. And that would give you an enough popcorn for you and your family for an entire year. Just like if you've ever grown corn, you grow popcorn the same way, it does need water. So if it doesn't rain you where you are, it needs about two inches of water per week. And fertilizer is important too, because it basically takes about 100 days to grow, which is fast, it needs fertilizer, and basically depends on what kind of fertilizer you like to use. I like to use organic fertilizers, like fish emulsion, things like that. But if you use a commercial synthetic fertilizer, try to keep the nitrogen phosphorus potassium fairly on the even side like a triple 10 or a triple eight, something like that. And you had fertilize with about a cup for a 50 foot row. So you can do the math on that one. You can apply it as a side dressing or in a one foot band. And basically you would fertilize popcorn three times at planting time, then when the stocks are about knee high, and again when the tassels start to appear at the top of the stocks. Now if you start seeing older leaves turning yellow or the younger leaves are pale green after you see the plant tasseling, then you may want to add another dose of fertilizer. But again, water fertilizer, good soil and stand back, watch it grow and you don't have to harvest it again until the whole stock turns brown. The only pest I have ever encountered in growing popcorn would be the corn earworm and the corn earworm you will only find after you peel back the husks and you see that some of the outer kernels have been eaten and you may see a little green worm. And one of the easiest ways to control that is to put a dropper to have mineral oil in the opening of that husk where the tassel is. And that usually controls that corn earworm that might get it in there, but it doesn't it's just basically cosmetic damage, it doesn't really interfere with the quality of the rest of the popcorn.

    Nicole: 9:25

    That's a good little trick. I hadn't heard of that one the mineral oil I like that. So talk to me about harvesting. You mentioned that you let them dry on the stock which is nice and easy. But what do you do then? And I guess the burning question I have is how do you get the kernels off of the cob?

    Fred 9:43

    I will tell you because yes, that is very important. Otherwise you're going to wear out a good pair of garden gloves real quick. The popcorn as I mentioned is ready to harvest about the first or second week of October and the stocks will be brown. The husks will be dry and the kernels inside will be hard. Now at that time, it is probably not ready for processing yet but the way to tell is to take a few kernels from an ear of corn, put them in a pan in hot oil on the stove and see if most of them pop. That's your sign to remove the rest of the ears from the stock. That way you know most of them are ready. You husk the ears. you place them in a mesh bag or old nylon stocking to cure for three weeks in a warm dry ventilated area you what you're trying to do with that is to get the moisture evened out among all the kernels and then after about two or three weeks where you have them in a mesh bag, I like to use orange bags, citrus bags, or you can use old nylon stockings and and hang them in a dry well ventilated place that works like a charm. Again, pop a few kernels strip the kernels from the cobs store the kernels in an airtight container if they're ready in a cool dry place. If you want to do it mathematically, the ideal moisture level you're going for with popcorn is 13%. And yes, you could buy a moisture meter to help you determine that but it's not really necessary. The easiest way to tell when the popcorn is ready to be put in jars or bags is to pop it on the stove, pop a few on the stove if they all pop up. It's ready to be packed. When it comes to storing the popcorn. The first thing you got to do is get it off the cob. And this comes to your question, how do you get it off the cob. If you don't have a little implement to do it, I would recommend putting on a pair of old garden gloves. And just starting at one and of the cob and loosening the kernels into a big bowl, you'll get tired of that real quick. So what you do is I believe it is the Vermont bean seed catalog. It's the only one where I've seen this but if you do a search for and this is the unfortunate name for this device, it's called the little stripper. And the little stripper basically looks like a cylinder with ribs on the inside that you can slide over the cob, twisting it as you go. That loosens the kernels, they fall into the bowl. So I would definitely recommend you get the little stripper. It makes the job a lot easier. I guess if you look up popcorn stripper, you'll find it on the internet as well. But I really do like the name little stripper. Anyway, the other issue you're going to have with is all the frass that comes off that cob with your popcorn. And you don't really want to be packing that popcorn in jars or or seal a meal bags with all that detritus that stuff that's on the cob, because it's really dusty and it doesn't make for a very appetizing bowl of popcorn. So one trick I found to do that and this rading your wife's lingerie drawer getting the bra bag out and winning the popcorn kernels in the bra bag. And but there's going to be a lot of detritus, take it outside and just shake it, shake it like crazy. And it's like a snowfall of corn shavings, if you will, stuff that makes up the cob. Or you can take a fan and blow it off of a cookie tray, put your popcorn on a cookie tray, and then take a fan or some sort of air that isn't too strong because you don't want to blow the kernels off the cookie tray. But blow that over the cookie tray. And that'll blow that detritus off to someplace else where you're gonna have to sweep it up or somebody's gonna get mad at you. And they're already mad at you because you took their bra bag. So buy your own.

    Nicole: 13:45

    And good little strippers.

    Fred 13:47

    Yes, yes. So, so buy your own bra bag for the popcorn.

    Nicole: 13:51

    So would it be an option to dehydrate them in a dehydrator instead of hanging them if you were in a hurry, at least you know, maybe a small batch that you could have some instead of waiting for three weeks?

    Fred 14:05

    Well if you wouldn't have to wait for three weeks if it pops up but chances are there's still gonna be a lot of moisture in there it's going to be over 13% and all the popcorn will not pop and you really want as much popcorn popping as possible. So you're wait three weeks. I mean, it's it's this is a process. And then you can have all the popcorn you want. I didn't mention something that I should mention, don't be tempted to go out and buy Jolly time or Orville redenbacher popcorn or whatever you find at the grocery store and plant that that's hybrid popcorn. And that's not going to come up true to what was originally in that bag or that jar hybrid popcorn commercially is grown for basically size and conformity and even popping. So a lot of the other benefits of popcorn have been basically spliced out of it, if you will, because the hybrid popcorn is basically designed for marketing purposes. So it pops up big and fluffy and even. Whereas with heirloom popcorn, it doesn't pop up big, it's small. It can be fluffy, but it's still it's very tasty, and it has much more nutrition. People don't realize how nutritious popcorn is, it's one of the best vegetables you can eat for fiber. The fiber content of popcorn is amazing. It's a healthy snack. It's real food. And it hasn't been treated with anything. I am amazed at the number of people who have never popped a bowl of popcorn in their life, either in an air popper or in a microwave popper, or on the stovetop, their idea of popcorn is it's right next to the potato chips in a bag. Oh, that's tasteless stuff that is just and treated with. With so many additives. Look on a bag of popcorn that's ready to eat on a supermarket shelf. And what you're going to find is a lot of chemicals you don't want to be putting in your body. Nothing can be better for your body than good old popcorn that you grew in your yard. And you either air pop it or use a microwave popper and buy a microwave popper. I'm not talking about those bags with oil in them. There is one made by Presto, it's called the Presto Power Pop Popper. And it's available wherever you do your online shopping. No oil is necessary. And it really does work like a charm. And of course, there are air poppers available still. But yeah, start popping your own popcorn for a real healthy treat. And obviously, the healthiest is the popcorn, you don't put butter, or salt or cinnamon or anything else on. But you know, do what you're gonna do. At least you're starting right.

    Nicole: 16:53

    And for storage. How long does it store for,

    Fred 16:57

    I'm still popping popcorn that I grew five years ago.

    Nicole: 17:01

    Oh goodness.

    Fred 17:02

    And that's in a jar, I just use canning jars with a good solid top. And it seemed now you can tell when it goes bad. Because you will open the jar and it will smell horrible. And it will all be stuck together. If you find that problem. That means you stored it with too much moisture in it. So you do want to let it dry out. Don't be in a rush. To put it in jars or bags. Make sure that when you throw a few kernels in onto the stovetop in hot oil that they all pop and they all pop within a reasonable amount of time. If you get too many unpopped kernels after a few days in storage, you can add moisture to the storage container because that means it's lacking moisture. And basically a tablespoon of water in a quart popcorn, shake it up a couple of times on day one. And then by day three, try popping another batch. And just repeat that procedure until most of the kernels are popping. Basically, if somebody asks you what you call an unpopped popcorn kernel is either a widow or an orphan.

    Nicole: 18:13

    Oh, I didn't realize they had names.

    Fred 18:16

    Yes, they do.

    Nicole: 18:18

    So obviously, growing popcorn sounds like a lot of fun. But I know that you have your Farmer Fred garden rules, which I think could also benefit those of us that are wanting to try growing our popcorn now. So can you share your garden rules with us?

    Fred 18:35

    Well, these garden rules came about from answering garden questions from listeners to the radio shows since 1982. And in time you detect patterns, a lot of the same questions over and over again. And people make a lot of basic assumptions that aren't aren't conducive to having a healthy garden or a successful garden. I call them the Farmer Fred garden rules. I mean, frankly, there are no rules in gardening. These are just strong suggestions. So I should change the name to Farmer Fred's 10 Garden strong suggestions there you go. People are much more transitory these days, they move around a lot, but they want to take the plants with them, that they grew at home or at least grow the same plant the similar plants in their new home. And we see this a lot here in California, which is home to many varied climates. So you see people moving from the very mild Bay Area into the Central Valley, or people from Southern California, moving to a cabin in the Sierra. And the same is true all across the country. All gardening is local. There are micro climates where certain plants have a better chance for success. And people who try to take their old plants with them and grow them at the new place may not be successful. I get this question a lot. The question is, I just moved here? What are the best plants to grow? And I really can't answer that for them. I say go and take a walk, see what's in your neighborhood. What grows well there? Take a walk through your neighborhood. Look at the plants that are successful that appeal to you. Ask your neighbors, what is that plant, and plant those just mimic the garden successes that you see that's a guarantee that the plants you put in will do well. Probably the primary rule for a successful garden is the right plant in the right place. Plants that need full sun should be in full sun. Plants that need warmth should be in the warmest area of the yard. So many people try to plant in too much shade, or they they're putting shade loving plants in the sun. So know where your plants should be, according to whatever resources you use. The Sunset Western garden book is always a favorite of mine, and that covers many of the western states. And that's a good reference book. And again, check with your local nurseries, that is the best place to go. And by the way, when I say local nurseries, I'm talking about a local nursery, a locally owned nursery, not a big box store. big box stores have bad habits of bringing in plants that were never meant for that area. But if you deal with an independent nursery, the people who are running that nursery have a financial stake in only selling plants that will be successful. And they're going to be bringing them in stock at the correct time for growing. And that's what I mean when I say all gardening is local, basically stick with what the locals know and stick with what your climate allows.

    Nicole: 21:48

    I actually volunteer with our local extension office and do some horticulture calls and I hear that question all the time. And I think that that's really some good tips. Even in your own yard. I know that there's a lot of microclimates and things as well, which like you mentioned, if it needs sun, put it in sun, if it needs shade, put it in shade, but I think that that's a really good key for success. What other garden tips do you have?

    Fred 22:13

    Well even staying on that one in your own yard there are microclimates and let's say you are putting in a plant that you know likes heat, like maybe tomatoes, or peppers,` or zucchini. Don't rely on the thermometer that may be attached to the side of your house to tell you what the temperature is out where your garden is. Have another thermometer out where you want to grow sensitive plants. Now here in California This is very true with growing citrus, you want to plant citrus, oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins in the warmest possible place. The old saying was plant citrus where the cat sleeps because the cat always chooses the warmest place to sleep in the yard. Have that thermometer out there. And digital thermometers these days, usually we'll record the high and low for each 24 hour period, you'd be amazed at the difference in temperature between that thermometer that's on the side of your house. And that thermometer that's out there in the garden where your plants are trying to grow. It could easily be a six or seven degree difference. So basically be sure you know what the temperature is out where you're trying to grow something.

    Nicole: 23:20

    Yeah, that absolutely makes a lot of sense with the with the microclimates and the variations. So what are some of your other tips,

    Fred 23:27

    Know your soil.

    Nicole: 23:28

    That's a good one.

    Fred 23:29

    It all it's all about the soil. I mean, I say this more and more as I learn more about soil, you don't feed plants, you feed the soil, the mycorrhizae it's the fungus and bacteria in the soil that get the food to the plant roots. How do you know what your soil needs, you get a complete soil test. And you're in Colorado, Colorado State University has a great soil testing service that will test your soil for a very reasonable fee. Go online look up Colorado state's soil test. Another place is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They have a very low priced soil testing service as well. And they will do it for anybody in the country if you don't have to live in Colorado or Massachusetts to take advantage of those soil tests. And these tests are like 20 or $30. And it's really a very complete soil test that will tell you does your soil need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, zinc, sulfur, and what the pH of the soil is the pH is very important because that is the relative acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Without getting too technical here, the alkalinity or acidity of the soil. The pH kind of refers to the size of the pipeline in the soil that allows the nutrients to flow through. If the pH is wrong, the nutrients that are in the soil can't get to the plants. So basically get that soil test know your soil. The other thing about knowing things is identify the pest. Everybody has plant problems. But what caused it? Don't guess, get a positive identification, if it's an insect, or if it's a plant disease, because a lot of people make the mistake and waste money on buying insecticides or herbicides for problems that they don't have. I have, I can't tell you how many people I have talked to who have tried spraying malafide on on a tomato worm. Tomato worms aren't affected by malafide when they need a stomach poison, like Bacillus Thuringiensis, also called BT. So identify all pests exactly. And then read and follow all label directions of any sort of pesticide that you might apply. Don't assume that an insecticide or an herbicide will kill a bad bug or weed if it's not listed on the label. And I hear that a lot too, that people are looking to kill a certain weed, for example, or some some plant that's taking over. If they have been bothered to read the directions on the label, they would see that that particular product may not be listed for that weed. So read and follow all label directions. Follow the instructions for when and how to apply the product as well.

    Nicole: 26:25

    Yeah, that's really great advice. I think that that's a common one. There's a lack of understanding that there are selective pesticides and herbicides, it's not a one product kills everything sort of situation.

    Fred 26:37

    Well, it depends on the product choices. Very true. When it comes to weed killers. There are non specific herbicides out there that will kill anything that they touch. And that's the other problem with people the the biggest selling pesticide in America is an herbicide. It's products that contain glyphosate, a weed killer, probably the most popular is Roundup, glyphosate will kill any plant it touches. So it's very important that you protect your other plants. Before you spray any sort of glyphosate product on a weed, you have to target that weed very carefully, you may want to carry a big piece of cardboard around with you to protect that desirable plant from the weed as you spray so none of the spray drifts on to the desired plant. I've gotten very good over the years of identifying glyphosate damaged plants. It looks ugly. In some cases, it looks like a blowtorch was taken to it. But it's usually twisted contorted branches and leaves of plants that are trying to outgrow a spray of an herbicide. Am I sounding too preachy?

    Nicole: 27:48

    No, no, not at all. So what are some other common questions or concerns that people have asked you along the years?

    Fred 27:55

    And one thing that I tried to impress upon people is there's a lot of right answers when it comes to gardening. And a lot of people think, well, I did it this way, it worked for me. So that must be the right way. Well, actually, it's a way. But if it works for you fine, but keep an open mind. Now. So if you're using safe garden techniques that others frowned upon, and those techniques are working, well, who are we to tell you to stop? Still, there's new research, there's new techniques, there's new equipment always coming around to make your chores a heck of a lot easier and satisfying. Today's solution, though, could become tomorrow's problem. So be open to changing your mind. And this sort of leads into another one that I like to say and that is Mother Nature bats last. Whenever you apply a broad spectrum synthetic insecticide, make sure you're targeting the bad bugs, and not the good bugs, the bad bugs will eventually find a way though, to overcome that issue, they usually develop a resistance to that chemical. The same is true with weeds too. If you repeatedly treat weeds with the same herbicide, those weeds develop a resistance to it. We're seeing that across America now with dicamba. So to battle the bad bugs, lend Mother Nature a helping hand, limit the use of insecticides, and provide the right plants for food and shelter for the beneficial insects. Build it and they will come I've got posts at the Farmer Fred rant blog page about building the good bug hotel plants that attract birds and pollinators as well as the insects that will feed on the bad insects. So always start with the least toxic alternative. And that is, as I said before, the right plant in the right place. And anytime you have a vegetable garden, incorporate flowers into it, especially Daisy like flowers and there's a whole family of flowers like that that have that flat very colorful flower head, those attract beneficials, like crazy. So always intersperse those among wherever you plant. And usually the way to get the biggest amount of beneficial insects to your property is to create a neon sign of these good plants of the plants that attract beneficials. So one of my favorites is Guy Lardia, also known as blanket flower, which has that flat Daisy like flower head and it's bright yellow or bright orange. If you plant that in a three by three square, that's a lot of yellow or orange, they can see that as they're flying by, and they will come and stay at your place. And that and once they find that place where and it's called a good bug hotel, if you will, because that's where they live, then they can explore the other parts of your garden where the bad bugs are, and they will be eating those. So always have some good plants to help you fight the bad bugs.

    Nicole: 30:56

    And have you been asked about Bermuda grass along the way. I know that that's a common nemesis of the garden.

    Fred 31:03

    Oh yeah, Bermuda grasses forever. You got runners on top of the soil, you've got runners beneath the soil, you've got seed heads, those turkey legs that just produce seeds that can travel and travel. The roots can live for 50 years.

    Nicole: 31:17

    Oh my goodness.

    Fred 31:18

    And they're just waiting for a bit of light. So when it comes to Bermuda grass, it's like you're not thinking eradication, you're thinking control. One of the tricks I found I've known people who've tried to get rid of a Bermuda grass lawn. So they would dig it out. or they'd spray it with glyphosate to kill it and then dig it out. But in that digging out process, they've tilled the soil and they've brought more Bermuda grass, runners underground stolons and rhizomes rhizomes up to the surface where it doesn't take much to germinate, burn a little piece of Bermuda grass rhizome. So as they get closer to the soil surface and they see more light, they germinate. So it's control. It's it's vigilance. It's getting out there every time you see it popping up where it shouldn't be, and digging it out and getting rid of it. But bermudagrass basically is married to your yard. And like in any marriage, pick your battles. Call this one a draw.

    Nicole: 32:21

    If that list wasn't enough, do you have any other last common questions or key takeaways or tips for farmers?

    Unknown Speaker 32:28

    Mulch mulch mulch, add mulch, add mulch, don't buy a roto tiller by a chipper shredder and those branches that are falling from your trees or the prunings put them through the chipper shredder that is the best feeding for your soil that's possible. One of the benefits of mulche is it stops soil erosion, if you have a ferocious rainstorm comes in, what do you think happens to your garden bed your garden soil, it can get washed away. By putting down three or four inches of a good quality mulch via chipped and shredded tree parts or bark, or even three to four inches of ground up oak leaves, that's going to stop the rain from pummeling your soil, it's going to land on the mulch and then slowly work its way down into the soil, thus saving your soil. And it can protect your trees from the biggest enemy of trees. And that's your string trimmer. As you get closer to that tree with your string trimmer, you might be tempted to just take away that last weed that's right next to the trunk, and then you accidentally start whipping the tree bark, will that damage is the tree bark. That's an entry point. For fungal diseases and insects. One of the easiest ways to keep you away from your tree with your string trimmer is to put a three to four inch layer of mulch beneath your tree. It shouldn't be right next to the trunk, maybe an inch away from the bark, but it extends all the way out to the outer canopy of the tree what we call the drip line, three to four inch layer, it's going to feed the root zone, which is towards the outer canopy. It's going to keep you and your string trimmer away from the tree that's protecting the tree as well.

    Nicole: 34:11

    And you mentioned oak leaves. We don't have a lot of oaks around here. So that's something I hadn't heard of before. Is there a particular reason as to why you're met recommend oak leaves and is there any other leaves that can be used as well.

    Fred 34:25

    Any sort of thin leaf is fine, thicker leaves are a bit more problematic. But if you grind them up, fine enough that they'll be excellent. But yeah, we talked about oaks just because many parts of the country have oak trees and oak leaves this time of view are easily attainable. But if you've got other trees if you've got some well what are some of the trees around you?

    Nicole: 34:46

    Oh goodness, I would say some popular ones would be the Honeylocust, Canada Red Cherries, Redbud trees, Hawtornes.

    Fred 34:59

    Okay, the Hawthorne Yeah, watch out for the thorns. But yeah, but as the leaves fall, those small, thin leaves make for an excellent mulch.

    Nicole: 35:08

    Well, I usually just let them blow away. I'll have to take advantage of them.

    Fred 35:12

    Oh, yeah, yeah, use them. I mean, no, it is really excellent mulch.

    Nicole: 35:16

    So obviously, you are an incredible wealth of information, and have a ton of experience with not only years of experience, but then the Master Gardener training as well. Can you share with us? How we can get more information from you? Where can we learn more about gardening? What's your website? All of the above?

    Fred 35:37

    You know, a good rule of thumb when you're looking up information about gardening on the internet to avoid people's opinions. I would put any search, I would include the little nugget .edu. If you say how do I kill aphids, you're going to get a gazillion different answers, none of which may be the best answer for you. But if you put in .edu the primary page of results is going to be from research done at universities. And that can give you a better handle on how to solve a pest problem or more information about plants. One here in California one of the easiest things to use when doing internet searches. If you're trying to look up a pest I might type in aphids, but I'll include the letters UCANR which stands for the University of California, Ag and natural resources. And that way the first page that pops up, I know is science based answers that will work for you and are probably the least toxic alternative. So definitely use .edu I basically that's the rules I go by whenever I answer a garden question I I try to make sure that there is science based evidence behind my answer to anybody. And we answer garden questions on the radio shows here in Sacramento every Sunday morning on KFBK and ksde. The KFBK Garden Show and Get Growing with Farmer Fred on KSDE. Both are available as podcasts as well. So if you do an internet search for KFBK Garden Show, or Get Growing with Farmer Fred, those podcasts will pop up as will garden basics with Farmer Fred, which has nothing to do with the radio. It has everything to do with basically just talking to the country about gardening with some very good guests from all throughout America, sharing their viewpoints with us with the radio shows I have to be sort of Northern California concentric, if you will, but with the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred. I'm talking to everybody.

    Nicole: 37:47

    And then your website, of course has mind blowing number of articles and resources there as well. So definitely check that out. has a lot the Farmer Fred rant blog page, as well. And the Get Growing with Farmer Fred Facebook page too.

    Nicole: 38:05

    You know of course, as always, we'll put the links to all of those in our show notes so that people can find them easily.

    Fred 38:11

    Thank you.

    Nicole: 38:12

    Well, Fred, thank you so much for joining me today. I didn't know that there was so much to know about popcorn. And that was really interesting. I definitely took home some good tips there. And and then of course your gardening tips are fantastic. And thank you so much for your time today.

    Fred 38:29

    Thank you, Nicole. I enjoyed it.

    Nicole: 38:31

    And for those of you listening, thank you so much for joining me for another episode and we'll see you again next week.

    Announcer: 38:36

    Thank you for listening to Backyard Bounty, a podcast by Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on the show. please email us at "[email protected]". Also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at Heritage Acres Market. All the links mentioned in this podcast will be included in the description. See you again next week!

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