In the Garden: Growing and harvesting your own popcorn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Everything out of our own garden is good, but how about growing a real treat? Charlie Nardozzi shows us how easy it is to grow popcorn.

Sharon Meyer: Charlie, this ear of corn has some pink kernels in it.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, you know a lot of people shy away from growing sweet corn because of the raccoons and it's hard to grow and stuff, but I've been growing popcorn.

Sharon Meyer: Who doesn't love popcorn.

Charlie Nardozzi: For years I've been growing popcorn. It's easy to grow, it will grow in cooler soil, so it's quick to germinate. And the raccoons and squirrels and birds -- they don't care about it. You don't need a big space either, if you can grow three to four little rows of it, that are maybe ten-feet long, and keep them really close together, you'll get nice pollination and you'll get a load of different kinds of popcorn.

Sharon Meyer: So do you just let it dry on the stalk like this?

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, you want to harvest it when the husks start turning brown and dry like that, and the kernels are nice and hard. So, like I was saying, this is a yellow one, the classic yellow one. It has a little cross-pollinations there.

Sharon Meyer: That's why the little pink kernels? Look at that.

Charlie Nardozzi: That's why the little pink things are in there. Yup, yup, a little hanky panky going on. So, this is your classic yellow one, beautiful pale yellow color. This one is called strawberry, because if you look on the inside, it has a reddish-color to it and the cob has a reddish color. It pops to a real pure white. You'll see how white that is in comparison with that one.

Sharon Meyer: You can see how dark the inside of that one is too.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, that one is called black Dakota, and that is, yet again, another variety. There are some that are called mushroom variety that look like little mushrooms when you pop them. So, there are all different types out there and they all have a similar flavor but a little bit different, and you just enjoy them.

Sharon Meyer: I'm going to try this one.

Charlie Nardozzi: So, all of these different varieties -- they are easy to grow, don't have animal problems with them, and you can store these in glass jars for a year. Some of these, like this yellow one, are over a year-old and it still pops fine. So the way you know when they are ready to start popping is, after harvesting, you let them stay for a couple of weeks in a cool, dry place and then you do test pops. And when you get to the place where they pop really readily, then you know they are ready. Put them in a glass jar. You'll have them for months.