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Family pitches in for potatoes

April 15, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

This past week I have been taking a lot of grief about not having my potatoes planted. You know who you are. Well, we finally were able to get the tractor into the garden to disk it up and then my oldest was able to rake it all out, so perfect for planting.

I like to plant a lot of potatoes - enough to last us all winter. Last year's crop outshined my expectations and then some, so we had enough to last us well into this spring. After, the boys and I carefully plotted the potato area out, using pink string and a few well chosen sticks from the grove; we had laid out six rows. My little girl stood by watching all of this commotion and more or less just took it all in until the real action started.

I started to dig holes, carefully going along our rows that we laid out, giving each of my boys a row to plant. Once our little 2-year-old caught on, to what was going to happen, she swung into action. She was grabbing seed potatoes and planting them, too. In between rows, she would march up and down, with her hands folded behind her back, giving comments on how well we were doing our work. She was kind enough to point out to her brothers where they had missed a spot and carefully running back to the basket to get another seed potato to add to whatever dug hole that she seemed to think needed just one more potato. We did have to wait until she had her back turned, to remove some of the potatoes that she had planted. After all, ten seed potatoes in one spot may have been a bit too much.

The boys were a little rusty on how to plant, with the occasional question about what side does the eye of the potato go (up, of course). Do we have to cut them in pieces? (No, I have too many, but you can if you want to) If they could plant a second potato with a teeny seed potato (yes, of course) and the best question of all was, do we have to help you dig all of these potatoes this fall (yes, of course). This is what MEA weekend is for after all, I say with a smile. This received a sound, no comment from them.

I decided that six rows were not enough since I had a lot of seed potatoes left and so, I planted two more rows by myself after they went to help their dad with other things on the farm.

We learned one valuable lesson last year that potatoes and manure used from our farm do not mix, especially with Yukon gold potatoes. There were enough rotted potatoes that had to be composted but only in those spots where the manure was not possibly mixed well into the soil. Pumpkins, on the other hand, do really well on composted manure.

I mused back when I was a little older then my oldest is now and how I got to plant seed potatoes, about a hundred pounds, back on the farm that I grew up on. I was pretty much in charge of the vegetable garden back then with one exception. I only had to bring the stuff to the house while my mother took care of the cooking and canning. I find that I am on both sides of the fence now. It is nice in the winter to only have to go to the basement, to the shelf or freezer to get produce that we raised ourselves and make it into something delicious on those cold winter days: Comfort food.

So, using my young daughters words, "Night, night potatoes, sleep tight". Please grow well and we will see you later this summer when we are digging new potatoes for brown butter potatoes.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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