Monday, November 12, 2012

Potatoes and daffodils

This afternoon I ventured into my garden, which has been neglected these last 10 weeks that I've been on sabbatical.  When I left, the late summer growth had begun to overwhelm the vegetable garden.  But now, it had taken over - bittersweet vines holding the gate closed, blackberry prickles catching my clothes, and weeds everywhere.  It looked like the potato patch would be a casualty of all that growth, but i picked up my garden fork anyway, and prodded the ground under the weeds.  And up came a potato, and another, and eventually I was able to harvest a small bucket full.  There are probably more, but tackling the weeds to get access to them can wait for another day.

The potatoes range from the size of my thumbnail to almost the size of my fist.  They are coated in dirt, but underneath I can see smooth golden skin.  Potatoes are one of my favorite home grown veggies - it's just so amazing that you can plant chopped up and slightly shriveled bits of left over food, and after the profuse but not very pretty foliage dies back, discover these great tubers under the ground.  Some I'll eat; others will languish in the cupboard till it's time to plant again.

Daffodils are the opposite.  The bulbs aren't anything spectacular to look at, and are a nuisance to plant.  Every year I order more, and then groan when the box arrives.  This year, I decided that it was time to quit short cuts and dig up the patch of grass where I've been planting them the last couple of years.  I had this great idea of having them naturalized, but didn't think about the ugliness as the flowers wilt and the stalks die back, at least if you follow advice and don't mow them over.

So the new plan is to dig the area of grass (a triangle about 15 feet long and 8 feet wide at one end), replant the bulbs there and add another couple of hundred, mulch, and over time put in low-groing perennials that will shoot up after the daffodils and provide summer color.

The digging is hard work, though not as bad as I anticipated (and certainly easier than dealing with the blackberries down the back).  And the soil is wonderful - brown and crumbly and full of worms.

Potatoes tend to be categorized on the useful end of the spectrum, and daffodils on the beautiful, but it's amazing how much beauty there is just in the earth, which offers its nutrients for plants to grow, potatoes and daffodils alike.

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