digging up potatoes

I wasn’t the best potato farmer this year (despite my Irish ancestry).

I didn’t buy any seed potatoes, just used some from last year that had sprouted in my cupboard, along with really tiny potatoes that I had dug up with the harvest last year.

I didn’t pile up the soil around the plants as they grew. They got awfully spindly, as other gardeners kept pointing out.

I also didn’t pinch off the flowers to delay the end of their growth cycle.

As I dug them up this year, I fondly remembered the lovely spring evening when, chatting with a neighbor, I buried the little bits of potato into the dirt. That minimal effort paid off well enough. Sometimes, you just want to throw something in the ground and not have to worry about it until harvest time. And that is exactly what I did this year, and despite my lack of attention, they are delicious.

There is something magical about digging into the dark dirt and rooting around with your fingers and pulling up a beautiful potato. It always seems to me that someone must have bought them at the store and buried them there for me to find, like a hidden treasure.

As with everything else, I’ve been figuring out how to grow potatoes mostly by doing it, with a quick reference to a book now and then. I had to laugh at myself one day when I looked at the potato bed and wondered how on earth tomatoes had wound up there. The picture below shows my confusion. When I saw the potato seed pods, I thought they were small green tomatoes!

potato.JPG

I had heard from others that you have never really eaten a potato until you had one fresh from the garden. The first year I planted them they were a great big disappointment. Some of them were so tough that no matter how long I would cook them, they never got tender. The next year, I didn’t plan to grow them, but on a whim decided to plant some at the last minute. I was glad I did, as they were creamy and fluffy, and finally I understood what everyone was talking about.

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