Small triumphs of the world’s worst potato farmer

Posted: May 20, 2013 in Urban farming

This year’s potato crop was every bit as sad as last year’s crop. And that one was as sad as the year before. We would plant seed pototoes and then, after 3 months, or 100 days, almost exactly, we would harvest about as many potatoes as we originally planted. We even called the seed potato suppliers for advice. “It’s hot here”, I’d say. “Oh, potaotes are easy to grow. The Russets do well in Texas. I’m sure those will work well.” Eh. Not so much. Probably because we planted them on the roof. We’d wait until the plants flowered. Big purple blooms with yellow centers. Gorgeous. And tuber-less. Drat.

When we took possession of our plot at the community garden in March, we mostly planted summer crops. We’d hit 90 by late March, darn those Santa Anas, so summer crops are really the way to go once February has come and gone. But, I had 5 potatoes that had been languishing in the greenhouse. Sprouting. And Bryn wanted to plant them. So, I said, sure. Put them at the end of the plot. She dutifully dug five holes and put the entire sprouting potato into the randomly sized holes. Some were really deep. Some were just barely covered with dirt. I figured, well, it’s unlikely they will grow so it doesn’t really matter at what depths they are planted. Right? She had fun and the potaotes were no longer in the greenhouse.

And then, it got hot. Really hot. Pull out all the window fans and for gods’ sake, don’t turn on the stove until after sun sets hot. Turn on the chickens’ fans. Open the greenhouse. Give the quail ice. HOT. Then, the weather turned. It was cold. There was rain. In April. We do not often get rain in April. But, the weather stayed cool for a few weeks. Then, hot. The onions, confused as all get out, bloomed. Darn Santa Anas. And the pototo plants grew large and verdant. I was not fooled. I’ve seen that before. Then, two weeks ago, they started bloooming. I was not impressed. I’ve been teased with bright purple potato blooms before. Lots of blooms. Lack of spuds. Feh.

Temperatures rose this week. And it feels like summer. The black ball looms and the fireworks at Disneyland explode more frequently. Aside from the imminent threat of June Gloom, summer has arrived in Southern California. I figured, those potatoes, if there are any, are done. Tubers do not form readily in heat. So, today, we dug them out. And lo. There were potatoes. Lots of potatoes. What the hell? We did everything wrong with these suckers. We watered them regularly before they sprouted. We never mounded dirt around them. The second grader planted them-we never really thought they would grow. But, we got eight pounds of potatoes from Bryn’s five potatoes.

Next year? The potato planting falls to the third grader. She’s clearly the potato farmer in the family. Thank the gods, there is at least one.


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