Saturday, November 26, 2011

One Potato, Two Potato

Potatoes are cheap.  "Small potatoes" means "not much."  We would not hesitate to toss them out, especially if they look like they're 90-year-old potato heads with all sprouts and no teeth.

I don't know beans about what makes a seed potato.  Last spring I was gifted with a generous handful of them.  When I went to purchase more at my local farm store, I was curious about what process was used to create a "seed" potato.  The fellow who helped my was more in the dark than I.  I went away wondering if it was all just a hoax.  If any of you readers want to comment with enlightening information on this subject, I'll certainly read it.

My technique for creating seed potatoes is to gather whatever is in the vegetable bin that has sprouted and plant it.  I've read that that doesn't work--that once it has long, white tendril sprouts, it won't grow a potato.  Maybe for others it doesn't.  But my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother did it.  So I wasn't shy about telling my daughter last summer that she could plant those ugly, sprouted knobs and something would come of it.  We tilled up a nice chunk of her lawn, piled on  the compost she had been cooking for a year and mixed it in.  Even with only first-time-potato-planting skills, she looked like a pro.

Part of the harvest
The rest was left to the potatoes to do what they naturally do when covered by earth and giving a little water from time to time.  They grew. They blossomed.   And toward fall the frost took the tops down.  Since they were planted rather late in the season (middle of July), there was some question about whether or not they would "potato."  Fruits have to mature and ripen.  Tubors just grow.  It's not a question of green or ripe.  But had there been enough time for them to tubor?

A crisp, fall day was the moment when the mystery of the earth would be revealed.  Digging potatoes is a treasure hunt and magic show all wrapped into one.   Putting ones shovel into the earth and exposing shiny, ruby-colored food is definitely magic.  I heard by phone it was a great show.

Awesome potatoes
So now this cold, wintery evening months later, we are thinking about supper and comfort food.   The breath-taking surprise for me from the larder was this generous bag of brilliant red potatoes. "Stand in awe of potato magic" is one of the Things I get to do today.  Our stew tonight has its origins in the roots of the dried up, sprouted dregs of routine grocery shopping from last summer.  ...three potato, four.  Five potato, six potato, seven potato more.

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