The Magic of Digging Potatoes

Last week, on a cool, yet pleasant, day in November, I finished digging up the last row of potatoes in the potato bed. There was a strong breeze and mild sun, a good combination for digging in the garden. The wind smoothed my cheeks and tried to do wild things with my hair, but I had outsmarted the wind and worn my hair back in a ponytail.

Of all the vegetables that we grow, my favorite to harvest is the potato. It’s like digging for treasure. Each plant is a mystery – the size and location of the plant above ground does not always match the bounty of potatoes underground. No matter how I try to mark the plants, I still find potatoes in all sorts of unexpected places – in the middle of a row, or seemingly unconnected to any of the plants. Sometimes a potato just seems to appear out of nowhere on the shovel. I’ve finally decided that the best way to approach my potato beds is to pick one corner and start digging methodically until I’ve turned over every bit of soil in the bed.

Over the last couple of months, Chris and I have dug up one row and down another, sifting through the dirt and bringing up potatoes. We bring in enough for the next week or so, knowing that nature will take care of any potatoes we left in the beds and they will stay fresh outside underground until we are ready for them.

Each digging brings an odd assortment of potatoes – little golf ball sized ones, medium and large ones, and even a couple potatoes that are bigger than our hands. We marvel at them all, then brush them off and stack them up in a bag to carry inside.

There is nothing so good as a baked potato that was picked an hour or so before eating. Steamy, fluffy, soft, and full of flavors like fresh rain, and Great Lake winds. Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of knowing that we’re eating the harvest from our garden that makes them taste so good.

For me, I think the potato and the growing process seems a little magical. Growing them is based solely on faith – you can’t see them or even be sure they are there or what size they are until it’s time to harvest them. And unlike the fragile tomatoes that go squishy if not picked right away, the potato waits patiently in the ground, content to rest comfortably until I am ready to take it inside.

Tonight we are having our first heavy snow of the season. Not quite December yet, and we’ll have maybe 5-7″ of snow by morning. It seems like the right rhythm – the gardens finally cleared, the last of the potatoes harvested, and now the snow begins to fall as winter approaches.

We watched the snow fall and layer everything outside in white snow blankets, then we baked potatoes for dinner. All the while, I remembered the wind on my cheeks and the sun on the backs of my hands, and the mounds of earth from the work of my shovel. It’s a good memory and I’ll carry it through the winter.

What was paradise, but a garden full of vegetables and herbs and pleasure? Nothing there but delights.  – William Lawson

In peace,

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge