Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Irish Potato patch

March 17th is the day.  We plant potatoes if the day is beautiful or if we are having  rain, snow, sleet or hail.   The land has been plowed, limed and the rows are hilled.  The soil, we had, was wonderful.  There were no rocks  and it floated through your fingers.  Daddy would use lime to sweeten the soil.  He would hoe the row into a long hill, with a valley between the rows.

My sister and I were to get the potato sets ready.  We had a potato bin in the basement where the potatoes were stored for the winter.  Daddy would mix lime with the potatoes and pack them into the wooden bin. Momma would fix potatoes almost every day for us to eat and there were potatoes left to plant.    We would bring the potatoes from the basement and cut the sets.  This was started about a week before time to set the potatoes.  Daddy wanted to have 3 eyes on the set.   You had to be able to count to 3 to cut sets.  My sister was 11 years older and counting to 3 was easy for her.  So guess what, she cut the potatoes.  I had to cut the long stringy shoots off.  Am I ever going to be able to do the grown up work?

The potato sets are laid out to cure, if they cure before you plant the sets it cuts down on rot.  Now we are not talking about a few potatoes, Daddy wanted a bushel basket of potato sets.  He wanted a mix of the different potatoes he planted saving us from having our own personal potato famine.

When it was time to plant the potatoes Daddy went in front with a pointed stick and made a hole in the top of the hill, my sister followed dropping the potato in the hole, and along I came to cover the potato and bring the hill up.  Momma follow all of us with a hoe flattening the top of the hill.  One row finished, I looked in the bushel basket and there were so many potatoes left in it.  On to the second row, third and fourth.  How many rows?  Daddy planted twelve rows of potatoes.

The sun was coming overhead and Momma said, " Time for lunch."  Off to the house we went, she had a pot of white beans cooking on the wood stove.  They were hot and we were hungary.  Momma fixed a plate of white beans for each of us.  Beet pickle, yes, she put a jar of beet pickle on the table.  We could have some with our beans.  The onions were cut and what a meal.  Momma always used great northern beans for white beans with lots of ham to season them.

After everyone finished their plate of beans, we headed back to the potato patch.  By late afternoon, Daddy was standing at the end of the last row.  Next was my bent over sister who would never stand  up straight again and me kicking the good earth over the last potato hills.   Momma put the hoe on the ground, smoothed the last several hills.  Daddy looked over the potato patch and started smiling.   Momma said she needed to get to the chicken house and gather the eggs.  Did the work ever stop?  I need to go and ride my tricycle. I think I can hear it calling me.


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