Potatoes, on average cost 33 cents each. So, yesterday when once again coating my hands in an orange glaze of potato bug guts, as we squished and smashed them off all the foliage, I questioned this particular job. The hauling of the hay down to this spot, covering my car in bits of dried grass for years to come I am sure, the hilling, the bug squishing, then the harvest. But despite all that, the truth is, there has not been a step of the process I have not enjoyed. And to spill the truth even further, this is my third year growing potatoes, and so far I have been greatly unsuccessful. The first year resulted in good-looking plants and hilling so accomplished it would make ants cower in shame. The area was complete with railing sides to keep the soil in. But the location was clearly less than ideal, with not enough sun, and poor soil to boot. The result? About two potatoes. Seriously, two. The following year, I placed them in the sunny, rich soiled front pasture hoping for more luck. But one trip to visit grandparents later, they were absolutely demolished by potato bugs, leaving nothing but skeletons of the foliage that once was.
This year, we are picking bugs obsessively, hilling wisely, and keeping our fingers crossed. Lots of work for something that hardly puts a dent in our budget. But my goodness, imagine how good those buttery, versatile, filling lumps of earth will taste. And the pride? The thought of filling a barrel with them and burying them just under the surface of the soil, simulating a root cellar, and going in for more periodically throughout the winter months, fills me with such a sense of accomplishment and joy. I hope this dream comes into fruition. So far, so good.
And for our fourth? As you can see it was filled in the Vermont way. Good food, a demonstration (to find out more check out stopnewvistas.org), some tug of war and a parade. What more could you ask for? The cake was actually crazy good. It was from food52.com, Smart Strawberry Cake, for those so inclined. With the addition of whipped cream and some wild strawberries as toppings we were all silent for the duration last night, dreaming of more when our forks came up empty. It was very good. Worthy of todays breakfast in fact, (a little trick I learned from my father, nothing starts the day quite like it).