Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spuds Stories from Portland

Getting back into posting has been a little difficult after all that has happened in Japan.  It reminds me a lot of how I felt after my father passed away...like slogging through mud, my arms and legs heavy with grief.  I'm too empathetic for my own good sometimes.  In an effort to counter all the grief I was experiencing I turned off the television, shut down the laptop and decided to go to the nursery and get potatoes for our garden; after all, life goes on.

It felt good to be stepping away from the reports for a while and even driving to the nursery was cathartic.  As I pulled into the nursery I could feel my spirits lift like I had just come out of a dark tunnel.  When I got out of the car I took a deep breath of air, the fragrance filled my head and it was so refreshing.  The day was cool and a little wet but not bad.  Perfect for shopping.  I headed back to the building where the spuds are kept.

Good ol' grocery store Russets spuds (bored)
As I looked at the varieties I was amazed at how every year there seems to be more and more types of potatoes.  How are we ever supposed to know what will grow best in our area if they keep giving us new choices.  This isn't like buy clothes...well maybe it is because it seems whenever I find a style and brand of jeans that fits they stop making them and have a new style that doesn't.  I think its fine to do the fashion thing with perennials and annuals but not with my food please!  I want to know that those words on the signs and in catalogs are true and time tested so I can be assured me they will do as promised. 

People are always asking me why I even grow pototoes since they are not expensive to buy in the store.  I have two reasons, first I get bored easily with my food so I'm always being enticed by gourmet potatoes.  The second reason I grow them is I'm too frugal to spend the money they want for gourmet spuds no matter how bored I am!  Why spend outrageous amounts of money on potatoes when I can grow piles of gourmet tubers at home and save a bundle!  At least that's what I've tried to do.  Not that the past years growing gourmet potatoes have been awful or anything...OK I'm lying; two years ago it was awful.

Two years ago the slugs or whatever it was decided the "Buffet Open" sign was out in my gourmet potato patch.  The Swedish Fingerling potatoes that I had planted came with high hopes from those high recommendations I had heard everywhere.  Well, in my garden they didn't do well at all and then with the critters helping themselves to MY gourmet potatoes it almost made me wanna cry.  "Hey those are mine!" I remember shouting down at the sorry harvest of half eaten bits of spuds I had just dug.  It was pitiful and I felt pitiful.  Where were the loads of spuds the nursery signs said they were going to produce or everyone else had said there would be for that matter?  They sure weren't where showing up in my garden.  I did more muttering and sputter over spuds that year, I almost hated the idea of even spading up one more hill...it was really painful.  Oh, by the way there were no tunnels so I knew it wasn't the rodents.  Eventually I had to dig the rest and the row gave us only 3 or 4 meals of those dreamed about fingerlings...what a disappointment.  Unfortunately that wasn't to be the only potato disappointment that year though.

German Butterball potatoes, usually a stellar performer in our area only provided moderate yields but their flavor was fabulous and left me wanting more.  Then there was the red potato I can't remember the name of.  It was so watery and nondescript in flavor that even my starch addicted hubby refused to eat it!  It was just bleh...no character and all water.  It was a little better raw than cooked and even at that it left you not not wanting another bite.  Why do they even sell such a variety of potato? As luck would have it this was the potato that did really well and the darn critters didn't nibble on it once.  Seems they somehow knew better...ah swell!

This year I am working on being more practical and not going too gourmet after trying too many new fanciful veggies and being somewhat disappointed by their produce.  I want see if I can improve my luck.  So today while its raining outside I'm counting out my newly purchased potato seed and find myself recounting fond...er...funny memories as I go about figuring how much room my spuds will take up.  My method this year is a bit backwards but I just wasn't at my best this week and who could blame me with world being turned upside down.  But the boxes on my floor in front of me with Norkota Russets, Yukon Gold and Romanze potatoes with eyes beginning to sprout all promise a new season in the garden and I have hope.  I'm hoping there will be some room left for some German Butterballs too.

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