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Connecticut Garden Journal: Popcorn

Dakota Black Popcorn
Flickr / Creative Commons
'Dakota' Black Popcorn

We don't grow corn. After watching our neighbor spend hours erecting barriers in his garden to unsuccessfully keep the raccoons out of his sweet corn patch, I'd rather let the local farmers do the hard work. But this doesn't mean I don't grow any corn. We do grow popcorn.

I've found over the years that raccoons aren't interested in popcorn. It's certainly not as sweet as sweet corn, so maybe that's why they stay away. Whatever the reason, we grow a nice crop each year experimenting with different colors and varieties. We're harvesting popcorn right now. One of the nice traits of popcorn is that you can leave it on the stalk into fall when you have the time to harvest. There's no rush. Once the corn husks and plants begin to brown, harvest anytime.

I like the traditional yellow popcorn varieties such as 'Robust', but also grow 'Strawberry' popcorn and 'Dakota' black popcorn. Strawberry and black popcorn have colored kernels that pop to a pure white color with little flecks of the kernel color. The flavor is subtly different as well and it sure beats store bought popcorn. Once dry, we store it in glass jars in a dark pantry and it lasts for months. We even give away ears of popcorn to family and friends stuffing ears into their Christmas stockings. It's easy and fun to rub off the kernels from the cob and pop up a batch.

Popcorn is also prolific. A small 5- by 8- foot patch is plenty for our own eating and sharing. So give popcorn a try next spring.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.