Look Out Idaho Here I come!

A cherry tomato and a beefsteak tomato, showin...

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The devil made me do it. Earlier this summer I left a potato on the counter top too long. I had it there waiting to use it with a dinner.

One day I looked at it and it had all these green sprouts protruding from the eyes. The great experiment began. My mother taught me that if you plant the sprouting eye of a potato it will grow into a plant and produce more potatoes. Why not? I was late in getting my vegetable garden started, and potatoes are a vegetable, right? I carefully cut the sprouting eyes out of the Idaho potato and planted them, five in all.

Sure enough, within a few days five green sprouts broke through the soil. I let them be. I paid more attention to the three varieties of tomatoes I  planted. Of the three, the biggest crop came from the grape size tomato plant. The smallest crop came from Beefsteak, and the third, also called beef-something produced fruit that wouldn’t turn red on the vine.  Last year, the grape tomatoes were sweet and flavorful. This year they were acidic and sour. The fruit on the beef-something distorted and resembled Siamese twins joined at the chest. I wrote a Halloween post about one of the beef-somethings called Graden Creature. Once a beef-something turned red it was tasty, but it required a lot of  trimming of the stem and from the juncture and the distorted twin top.

Visions of my Grampa Jim ran through my mind all summer as I waited for the potato beetle to come and devastate the five plants. Grampa Jim invented the green movement of organic gardening. His method of eliminating the potato beetle was to tour the rows and pick the bugs off the plants by hand. He flicked them into a coffee can with kerosene. Often, when I scoured the shed for nails and tools, I’d look into a coffee can only to find an inch of kerosene in the bottom and a layer of bugs floating on the top. He didn’t waste his cans or kerosene either.

Miraculously the potato bug didn’t arrive in my tiny garden. Last week, during garden cleaning, I finally harvested the potato crop. My heart raced with excitement as I dug for the tubers. Success, I found several under the first plant. These potatoes have a way to go to compete with the Idaho they sprouted from, but it is a start. Look out Idaho, Look out Maine, Grumpa Joe is adding potatoes to his crop.

The 2011 crop

The largest is three inches long, the smallest is the size of a large marble

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