Growing a potato could make anyone feel like a magician—that is, after the ground thaws. Throughout the winter, a few bushels of our Corollas—the bald, soap-shape staples of our winter diet—lurk in the underground part of the house, the cellar. Each week, I descend and retrieve a shirt-hem’s worth for dinner. About the time I tire of ever tasting them again is when they’re starting to wrinkle anyway and launch spooky white shoots from their “eyes.” To ensure another cellar full of winter fare—pomme de terre, the soil’s fruit—we plant chunks of the sprouting spuds in early spring. From that buried nub a shoot will rear and spread its leaves. Then we’ll mound the soil around them. Even as they bloom, we’ll push more soil against their shoulders, as if trying to rebury them alive. By the time the Canada geese are angling in the sky, all these potato plants will have withered and died, until all that remains is a clutch of slumping stalks. “After you loosen the soil, plunge your hands in,” I once told my dirt-averse mother. She obliged, and replied, “There’s nothing here.” Then, like a girl who’d just won a prize, “Oh, look!” she exclaimed, as she exhumed an enormous tuber.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.