Friday, September 10

Oh, Spud Buckets!

After the first nasty freeze we had early this week, this is what the plants formerly known as potato look like. I've been spending some of every afternoon out in the garden with my shovel digging potatoes. The dog loves to watch and occasionally help with the digging.

When I find a little potato not worth storing, I give it to her to crunch on. Once I gave her a larger potato that I had accidently cut in half with the spade, and she scooped it up in her mouth and ran to the door of the house, whining to be let in. I suppose she thought she had aquired a great treasure, and it was safer to hole up somewhere indoors with it, than to remain out where it might be taken from her.

It's backbreaking work, digging potatoes, and the part I find the most difficult is carrying the full buckets of potatoes indoors. When I can, I get one of my sons to do it for me, but they are not always here, and I'm afraid if I left a bucket in the garden for them to carry in later, I'd forget about it and leave it out overnight and the potatoes would freeze.

I have somewhere around 150 lbs. of potatoes spread out on a tarp on the basement floor, covered with another tarp so that no light gets to them. My guess is that I have half of the potatoes dug, so we will have 300 lbs or so when I'm through digging. I'll leave them spread out in the basement for a couple of weeks, and then package them up in boxes or bags and put them in cold (but not too cold) storage.

We planted at least 4 different varieties of potatoes, not because I planned it that way, but because the bins of seed potatoes were all nearly empty when I was at the garden centre last spring, so I had to take all the potatoes from each bin in order to have enough. Red potatoes, Yukon golds, a purple variety, and another multipurpose potato (I don't remember the name) with skins that are darker brown and thicker than the skins of the Yukon golds, all planted in no particular order, so that when I start my digging under a plant I never know what color the potatoes I find will be.

I love digging potatoes. I know I just complained that the work is backbreaking, and I'm not taking that statement back, but there is something so satisfying about being out in the fall air and digging through the moist black soil for those nuggets of gold (or purple, like those pictures in the bucket).

The frost hardy plants, like the cabbages and broccoli and brussell sprouts all still look lovely. The cabbages you see in this photograph are volleyball sized, and there are several more of them. There are only two of us here who eat coleslaw, and that's a lot of coleslaw, so I have given some away, and would give a couple more away if I could.

I haven't paid much attention to the beets. The daughter who loves them is gone now, so I'd been ignoring them until yesterday, when I noticed that they have begun to grow up out of the soil because they have nowhere else to go. I guess I will have to begin picking and cooking and freezing them soon. I think I'll wait until I get the potato digging finished.

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