Today, I harvested two handfuls of red potatoes from a black potato sack. I’ve never grown potatoes before, afraid of them for no reason I can really pinpoint, maybe just because they grow deep in the mysterious earth and you have to dig them up. How would I ever know when I should harvest them? What if I spent all that time growing them and they were rotten when I dug them?
But when we visited CR’s mother in the UK, she had potatoes growing in a soft-sided bag. The local garden club was having a contest and she was serenely certain to win over her neighbor Barbara (who tries not so show her aggravation with this serene certitude). Something about that little sack kindled my interest, and Gina gave me brand new bag of my own, along with a little flyer of instructions, to take back with me. It was late to start anything by the time I returned, late June, but I found some seed potatoes and followed instructions. They began to grow.
And grow. Every week, I gave CR the news to give to Gina: the plants were sturdy and strong, vigorous as we all know potatoes can be. I started too late to get much of anything, but a million strawberries and raspberries, but today it was time to harvest the potatoes. I marched to the back of the yard where the sturdy vine was growing, and stuck my hands in the dirt. Nothing. And then only a potato the size of a quarter.
Disappointment tugged my chest. I picked up the bag and upended it. And there, in the bottom of the bag were the potatoes. Tiny ones and medium size, and the size I would choose at the store. It made me laugh to see them all, so plain and vigorous and unmarred, their thin skins a color of pinkish red that I might have thought was dye if I spied it in the grocery store.
Fresh, local, organic. As fresh as you can get, from the ground to my table in less that twelve hours. We ate them with butter and salt, and they were as sweet and tender and perfect as any potato I’ve ever eaten. Next year, I’ll be planting more. Gina says they really should go in at Easter.
Do you like to garden? What are your favorite food crops?