Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fingers Digging For Fingerlings

13 pounds of LaRatte Fingerling Potatoes harvested and washed off.

Some people dig their potatoes with a hoe, a broadfork, or shovel. In fact pretty much every gardening book I've read, says to do so... carefully. My first ever harvested potato (last year) was impaled by a hand trowel. I was extremely excited to find that potato on the end of my trowel however. It wasn't very easy to find. I kept digging and digging. I thought that maybe I wasn't a successful potato grower. Maybe nothing had happened under the soil. My spirits were starting to falter. But, I told myself, "My vines had grown, they had died back, and there are supposed to be potatoes down there dag nabbit!" I had to know for sure. I couldn't leave it to chance that there might be potatoes lurking under the soil. So I dug down deep, deeper than I thought they'd be, and I came up with a potato stuck to my trowel. Hubby was in the backyard doing something to the grass or whatever. I called over to him, "John! I found a potato." No response. I shouted even louder, "I found a POTATO!" That did the trick and he joined me in the garden to help with the potato harvest.

At that point, I sort of lost my aspirations, at least for that season, as a potato harvester since I ruined that first one. I was happy to have company to share my happy potato luck anyway. Hubby took over as the digger of spuds. He gently dug around dislodging each potato from the earth by hand. To me, it's sort of like an easter egg hunt or digging for buried treasure. You never know how much you will find.

The thing is, my garden is situated in the sunniest location we have. That location happens to be on our sloping backyard. The first summer, I just planted my veggies (no potatoes that year) right in the ground with rows going up and down the hill. It was difficult to weed and just generally do anything that way. I don't think the plants minded, but I knew there was a better way. I had always wanted raised beds, before we even had a garden. I thought they looked neater and more orderly and, just easier to maintain. Then when I finally got my garden spot, it was clear that raised beds were definitely the way to go. It's much easier when gardening on a slope.

But... potatoes in a raised bed? Sure, why not. It seems to be working. The only difference, as far as I can see, is in the harvesting. There's not a lot of room for coming in at an angle with a gardening implement to pry the spuds from the ground. So we do it by hand. Your hands are probably the best garden tools around. Can't get any gentler than that for harvesting potatoes. Well, maybe if we used little brushes as the archaeologists do, that could be gentler, but it sure would slow us down. That would be a bit silly I guess, but I like the mental image of us out there brushing the dirt away from our potatoes one at a time. It is fun to dig in with our hands and feel around for them. This is not a task for those that are squeamish about bugs, worms, and other crawly things. Chances are, if you have a garden, you’ll get over that squeamishness quickly because who has time for that when you have work to do?

This weekend we dug some of the potatoes. There are still more plants out there. I’ll probably dig those in a couple more weeks. Here’s a quick video (about 2 minutes) of some of our potato digging day. I did dive in and dig out potatoes with my hands as well. That is after I put the camera away. And yes, we did have potatoes for dinner last night, because we eat what we grow.

To view this video, click the play button (arrow) in the image below. To view additional times, click the refresh button of your web browser, and then click the play button.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those fingerling potatoes were excellent on the grill! It is fun uncovering the little spud nuggets underground.