For many years my dad kept a journal of his gardening activities and wrote down dates of planting, diagrams of his evenly spaced rows, and recorded his failures and successes (such as tomatoes so large you only need one slice for a BLT). After many years, he didn’t need to do that anymore. He remembers by instinct after a lifetime of working his grey dirt (unlike us unlucky folks with red clay) that, for example, you plant red potatoes on Valentine’s Day.
I was with my dad on February 13th this year, so it was no surprise that after dinner we went to the farm store and bought a big bag of seed potatoes. I went home with about 25 pounds of them in my car. To put that in perspective, each seed potato will yield an average of 3 plants, so I probably have 100 or more potential plants worth of potatoes in my car right now. Last year PL and I had 4 potato plants and we grew more potatoes than we could eat. Needless to say, I’m looking for some eager potato growers. There’s still plenty of time left to plant them–the Valentine’s Day planting date is pushed forward a week or more with no problem, especially since it’s usually a bit cooler here than where my parents live.
I do have to admit that I’m a bit hesitant to give the seed potatoes away for several reasons:
- I just don’t know that many people, and if everyone I know is growing potatoes too, then I don’t have anyone to take my extras.
- Potatoes are so easy to grow that if you knew how easy they were, you wouldn’t be as excited when I give you a bag of pretty red potatoes.
- I don’t know if you can be trusted with the secret and ancient knowledge that although it’s cool to see big potatoes when you dig up the mounds at the end of the growing season, it’s even better to sneak your hand in the hill and pull out the tiny ones (don’t peel them!) and cook them–they are like butter (said in your best “Coffee Talk” voice).
Before we can plant potatoes though, we have some major garden preparation work to do. We have one raised garden bed in the backyard that I built the day after we closed on our house–seriously, we had no furniture, or even electricity, in the house, but we had tomato plants.
As our family grew to include 2 homeless mutts, our tiny garden bed has become a digging pit for the dogs and their friends. That’s a fine activity I’m sure, but not something that fragile baby plants enjoy.
Since the backyard has gone to the dogs, literally, we decided to move the garden to the front yard, and to just plant things directly in the ground. It’s sunny and lovely in the front yard, and I hope it turns out to be a good spot.
So, this is what the yard looks like right now. In front of the house (resting underground, waiting for summer) are the world’s largest elephant ear plants and some lilies and other flowers of indeterminate heritage. The grass is already in sorry shape, so there’s no shame in digging it up and putting cow manure on top of it. If I’ve never mentioned it, our gardening philosophy is primarily governed by things that people give us for free–I got some assorted bulbs from a coworker, so that’s what’s planted in our flower beds.