Making a Broom from Broom Corn

Making a Broom from Broom Corn

Part of Ep. 504 Harvest Creations

Create a broom out of broom corn.  Loury Huesman, a volunteer at Schumacher Farm in Waunakee, demonstrates the process from combing the seeds out of the corn to tying the string.

Premiere date: Jul 31, 1997

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
This is broom corn. It's an easy-to-grow annual. You can start it indoors in early spring, or you can plant the seed outside in later spring, just like corn, directly in the ground. We're at Schumacher Farm, a Dane County Park in Waunakee. I'm with one of the many volunteers here, Loury Huesman. Loury is going to show us how to make a broom using this broom corn. When we're done, we'll end up with something just like this. What's the first step, Loury? I've grown the broom corn, what do I do now?

Huesman:
You have to harvest it and strip all the leaves off of it. And you cut the heads off-- we've cut them to a workable length.

Shelley:
So, this is good.

Huesman:
Right, depending on the size of broom you're going to make. These are small heads, so we'll make small brooms. A lot of people like the seeds left on them if they're going to use them for decoration.

Shelley:
They're beautiful.

Huesman:
If you want to take them off to use it for an actual, working broom, just take a dog comb and comb them right out.

Shelley:
Then, I can gather up the seeds and use them to plant again for next spring.

Huesman:
Right, and then have twice as many brooms to make next year.

Shelley:
Great, that's perfect. Okay, now what do I do?

Huesman:
Then, the next step is to go out into the woods and cut yourself some sticks. This is just a short piece. Normally, I like a nice, long stick. You can use willow, hickory, oak, whatever you like. And you taper the tip. Put a groove in it for your string to be tied into as I've done here. I also put in a tack to help hold the string. After you have that done and the string attached, take the broom straw and you take and put a single layer all the way around the stick. And then, wrap it...

Shelley:
So, one row of broom corn all the way around.

Huesman:
One row of broom corn all the way around. Then, wrap it three or four times. Draw your string down good and tight and then tie it.

Shelley:
Now, you've got one that's at that stage, already.

Huesman:
Right. This is what it should look like. Now, the next step is to take a knife and cut off the excess.

Shelley:
Otherwise, they'll just stick out like that.

Huesman:
Right. They sort of look frizzy, there. When you get through doing that, it should look something like this.

Shelley:
Now, are we finished?

Huesman:
No. Normally, with a broom like this, we need a second layer. So, we just take and add another row of broom corn.

Shelley:
Wrap it all they way around again?

Huesman:
Right. All the way around again. And after we get it all the way around, we wrap the string around it again, three or four wraps. Pull it down tight and tie it.

Shelley:
You've actually left it open, here. You don't have a whole layer.

Huesman:
I left it open there to show you the next step.

Shelley:
Okay.

Huesman:
Let me get it through there-- there we go.

Shelley:
So, you've got it tied good and tight.

Huesman:
Right. After you have it tied good and tight, then you take your knife and you cut off your excess, again. But, you cut it off higher than the first one.

Shelley:
So, we're overlapping it, then.

Huesman:
Right. Then, you take your string and you come up and you tie it to your handle, again.

Shelley:
Up there.

Huesman:
Up there. Bring it back through your stalks and re-tie it higher.

Shelley:
Okay, you're getting to this step, then, up here.

Huesman:
Right.

Shelley:
So, then you cut it off above it and this is your finished tie.

Huesman:
Right. On this particular one, instead of bringing the string straight up, I wove it through the broom straw and then tied it. The only other step you need to do, then, is down below the end of your stick, you've got to take another wrap of string. You wrap it around and tie it good and tight. That will keep the handle from sliding down into the broom. Then, the only other thing you've got to do is cut the tip off, if you want to.

Shelley:
If you're going to use it as a real broom.

Huesman:
Right.

Shelley:
Okay, great. Thanks, Loury. Now, you don't have to make brooms to enjoy broom corn. There's lots of uses. You even make a simple swag like this and enjoy the really lovely seed heads.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.