Brooms and Broomcorn Aren't Just for Witches Anymore!
Why Make Your Own?
Broomcorn will grow anywhere that you can grow corn, and broom making used to be a lot more extensive than in just the Midwest, southern states, and Mexico, due to those darn synthetics. The beauty of making brooms is that a lot of expensive equipment is not required. Real broomcorn straw makes a lot better broom than synthetics, any day of the week. As a matter of fact, you could grown enough broomcorn on a measly acre of land to make a thousand brooms, but broom making is a lot of work. You won’t get rich from it, either, but many of us could care less about wealth.
Varieties and Ideal Climate
Broomcorn is grown for its stiff branched and elongated tops for both brushes and brooms. It ranges in height from two to five feet. A number of places sell these wonderful seeds and will help to get you going on your wonderful adventure on growing broomcorn.
Broomcorn grows anywhere that corn will.
Plant the seeds four inches apart in rows thirty inches apart, an inch and a half deep. The seeds are small, so thin after the plants come up. Then thin again to about ten inches apart. A ten foot row will give you enough tassle to make one or two brooms. Weed and water just like corn.
By late summer, the plants will be at the late bloom stage. Before the seeds have fully developed and while still green, bend the stalks down two to three feet below the top tassel. Let them dry, still attached in the garden for several days. Then cut off the top plus six inches of stalk below. You can wait until the tassels turn red or yellow, but the finished brooms won’t be as strong. If you want to display a broom, then wait for the colors. Pull off the leaves and spread out the straw on a clean surface in the sun to dry for three weeks before you make a broom. Bring in at night to protect from morning dew or if rain is expected. The straw is dry enough when the tassels spring back after they are gently bent.
- Red Broom Corn - Johnny's Selected Seeds
Red Broom Corn
Saving Seeds for Next Year
The seeds must be ripe, so leave a plant in the field and it will complete its maturation process. The brush turns yellow and you’ll see the seeds in clusters that look just like corn tassels at the tip of the stem. Cut and thresh the seeds by scraping them out. If you don’t want to plant again, save for birdseed.
The easiest to fashion will be the round fireplace brooms, or the witch transportation. Simply comb the seeds from the tassels, and allow four to eight inches of stem plus the tassel. Trim all your stems to that length. Trim away part of the stalk on one side, which will make a thinner neck to bind. Insides will be the short straws and hurls are the long straws. A broom with all hurl straw is the best, but you can make good brooms with insides slipped inside the hurl and not waste any straw. Fashion your broom handles from straight young wood and cut four to five foot lengths.
Soak tassels in boiling water to soften. Remove them while still hot and wet, and bind tightly with twine or wire around the end of the broom handle. Put in two nails, bend them over, tie twine to the lower nail, wrap it around stalks, and then fasten at the higher nail. When you get proficient at doing this, remove the nails for the finished broom. Make one or two tiers of bound on tassels, and if you use two tiers, one will go on lower than the other. Finally, evenly trim the sweeping bottom straws. As they dry, they will shrink tightly around the handle.
And there you have it. All the information that you need to make yourself some brooms. Now, go to it!
© 2012 Deb Hirt