I had given up on my potatoes. The weather had been so hot and so dry that they looked utterly defeated—all yellow and sad. There were a few good tubers here and there, but it seemed like the crop was generally small. Some of the bigger taters were rotten in the middle when I cut into them. If it hadn’t been for the past two rainy weekends, I would have had them all pulled out by now.
But looking at them this morning in the morning light, I discovered something encouraging and positive there in my straw-mulched potato patch: New growth. Green growth. Happy plants. Good looking plants. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a decent crop after all.
My favorite way to cook fresh potatoes these days in on the grill. After I wash them, I cut them up sort of into thick fries. I’ll cut a medium tater in half and then cut the halves longways into four or five wedges. I’ll put these in an aluminum baking pan with some organic canola oil, salt and pepper, and some chopped up onions and garlic. And of course, my special secret ingredient: Old Bay seasoning.
I put the pan on the top shelf of my gas grill and let them cook up for maybe 10 minutes with the lid closed, then I’ll sort of shoogie them around with a spatula and let them go for another ten minutes or so. They get crispy on the outside, maybe a little brown, and a little mushy on the inside. They go great with a burger made from grass-fed beef from the local biodynamic farm (thanks Seven Stars!) and a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The perfect summer time meal.
The garden at our house is moving along nicely on two fronts: indoor and outside.
You know about the peas, but we also planted spinach and radicchio by seed. The spinach looks good, but the radicchio is taking its time. I planted them together in one of the 2 x 8 raised beds in sort of a diagonal stripes.
We went up to the cold crop sale at the Rodale Institute last week and got some broccoli and arugula seedlings and a bag of onion sets. I put the onions in a few different beds, a row here, a row there, sort of out of the way along the back edges and outside corners of some of the bigger raised beds. I put the broccoli in the bed where I overwintered turnips and collards. (Wondering now if that’s a brassica overload; perhaps some crop rotation was in order. Live and learn.) We’ve been eating lots of turnip greens lately. Last October I planted about 40 bulbs of garlic in the other 2×8 bed. This all sounds like a lot of work, but my raised beds were ready to plant because I kept them heavily mulched all winter. The soil looks great, full of worms, ready for a productive season.
Inside, everything I planted a few weeks ago is up—except the marigolds. I’m wondering if my seeds were bad, or if they’re the kind of seed that needs darkness to germinate. I’ve left the fluorescent light on 24/7 since I planted the seeds. The rest of the seedlings seem to like it.
And this past weekend, Iris and I planted tomato seeds. OG senior editor Doug gave me some of the seeds that he’s trialing in the test garden. I’m stating 4 varieties: Velvet Red, Black Icicle, Italian Heirloom, and Henderson’s Winsall.
This is random, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the correlation between having kids and growing a garden. As new parents or new gardeners you have no idea what to expect. You worry a lot about the “right” way to do things and it can be stressful to say the least. But I’ve noticed, as my wife and I are getting very close to having our second child, that things are a little less stressful. Not that it’s not incredibly exciting; it’s just exciting in a whole new way. More on that later.
My seed potatoes shipped today. I should have them in time to plant them on Good Friday. Going for the mulch method this year. I had them in the ground a lot earlier last year.
I had some help with my potatoes on Friday. My daughter is 19 months old and was very excited to be helping daddy in the garden. She told me that the potatoes were sleeping, and she said goodnight to each one as we covered them up with dirt.
Last Saturday I made ready a place for my taters. I double dug a twenty foot row and added some nice rich organic compost. I’m not going to plant the tubers just yet, though.
This year I want to see what superstition and folklore have to offer. I’m curious about moon planting. They say you should plant root crops during the waning moon. The full moon was last night, so I’m free to plant my taters any time in the next two weeks.
But there is another piece of folklore that plays into my planting schedule: Pagan ritual wrapped in Christian tradition. Eostre was a pagan moon festival that celebrated nature’s rebirth in Spring, upon which was superimposed the Christian holiday of Easter. Through the years this moon ritual has quietly survived in the tradition of planting potatoes on Good Friday. Conveniently enough, this Friday is Good Friday and my Yukon Golds will go subterranean.
I took some pictures this morning: the garden and the pea.