My kids are having the typical city kid experience of farming: they visit farmer’s markets regularly; they have both visited local farms and gotten to plant and pick vegetables. But they are lucky in that every summer, we visit my parents and the boys get dirty in my dad’s big vegetable garden.
We like to go in late August, to take full advantage of the garden’s variety, but this year our trip was timed with the Mets/Giants baseball schedule in mind so went a bit earlier. The East Coast’s cool, rainy summer delayed things in the garden, so although there were berries (especially fat, juicy blackberries) we didn’t experience last year’s bountiful berry harvest. No, this year was really about potatoes, and the boys are still talking about digging potatoes.
Digging potatoes is magical, no doubt about it. Above ground, you see a fairly scrawny plant. It gives no hint of what it’s producing below the surface of the soil. You push-pull the plant away and start scraping in the dirt with your hands — no shovel required.
In Connecticut (the only place, come to think of it, that I have dug potatoes) it’s easy to mistake potatoes for rocks (and vice versa), and the purple ones my Dad likes to grow are particularly hard to spot. It’s almost more about feeling your way to them with your fingers. And then, suddenly, there’s one!
The boys especially like finding the tiny, half-a-bite potatoes I called vitamins when I was little, so now they do, too.
We dug a hill of purple potatoes, and then a hill of reds, and soon enough we had plenty for the evening’s potato salad.
The potatoes are really prettier before they’re cooked into salad, so I didn’t photograph that. But here is one more gorgeous potato, dug by my boys from my dad’s garden:
We’re back home again now, eating potatoes from the farmer’s market. They come into the house a lot cleaner than the ones we bring in from my dad’s garden, and they taste pretty good, but they’ll never be as much fun as potatoes we dig up ourselves.