Fall seems to be knocking at the door and I decided to mow the lawn in hopes the trim would last until next Spring. It is a beautiful day and when I finished, I hopped the rock wall down to my garden. The strawberries are still producing glorious fruit, I had a big handful of raspberries from my fall producing canes, and I got some of the late blackberries. I was glad with my berries, as my vegetables have not been stellar this year. I do have tomatoes, but not much else to speak of.
Between my strawberry patch and my veggies lies what has historically been a no man's land of mud and weeds. It is only a few feet wide, but this Spring I decided to plant some potatoes there and see what happened. I have never grown potatoes and had to Google the method. I planted about 20 seed potatoes, then forgot about them for a while. They produced plants as the summer warmed up and I bought some compost that I used to build little mounds around each plant. I only did this one time, and then I did what I usually do for the second half of summer, I neglected my gardening.
Everyone says that you shouldn't overwater potatoes and they should be in well drained soil (kind of like a Tulip I suppose). Well, I have clay soil, and sprinklers that come on every night to keep my berries watered, and the poor potato conditions showed in the quality of my potato plants. The plants that didn't look absolutely sickly seemed to die off all together. Here is a pic that is typical of the foliage.
I pretty much wrote off the idea of a fall potato crop in my mind. The soil was just too soggy and my plants weren't faring well. But for some reason, after mowing the lawn and eating a few berries, I decided to dig around in the potato patch and just see what was under there. My first bite of earth produced a ton of earth worms, but I hadn't cut in too far. I dug again and saw that I had sliced right though a red potato, and it didn't look small or rotten; in fact, it looked rather delightful! I was immediately encouraged and carefully dug around 2 or 3 plants and this is what I found.
Red potatoes! Right there in my sticky, slimy dirt! Some were small but some were pretty good sized. I dug a bunch out and washed them with the garden hose. No one ever told me what an absolute pleasure it is to dig up potoatoes!! I felt like I was rooting around for buried gems! (Idaho is named the Gem State, by the way--although it has nothing to do with the spuds.) There was something so captivating about digging in that dirt looking for glimpses of red skin. I am thoroughly enamored!!
Here is my first harvest after I cleaned them with the hose. I decided to stop digging so I could share the fun with the kiddos another day. I can't wait to actually try them! Who knew digging in the dirt on a sunny day could be so much fun!