It has been a busy time at the homestead, as it often is in the fall. One chore that I particularly enjoy is the potato harvest. Alice and I call it, “digging for gold.” We grew a bit more than 5 rows this year in our outside garden. Because of the nice rain this summer, I didn’t have to do too much watering, but we sure had a lot of potato bugs. We picked bugs every other day for weeks until each side declared a truce. Then the plants green parts of the plants died back and harvest time arrived.

At harvest time, I envy the folks with light soil. Ours it heavy clay into which we’ve infused tons of humus over the years. So while the soil is friable, you don’t just stick your hands in and start sifting potatoes out with your fingers. I begin with the shovel along one side of the potato row, and dig in about a foot from the center of the stem. I push the shovel blade in as deep as I can get it (yes I wear shoes for this) and then pry the dirt up. I’ll often see potatoes poke their heads up at this point. Once I’ve made a line the length of the row, I make an identical one on the other side of the same row. Then it’s down on hands and knees, and dig through the dirt for the “gold” that is buried.

Whatever I find gets tossed up onto the tarp I’ve placed near the diggings. As I get part way along the garden, I drag the tarp along with me. Once the tarp had all this year’s crop on it, I bunched up the corners and attempted to lift it. No dice. The thing was just too heavy for me, which is a good thing, I guess. So I dragged it into the entry way trying not to bruise the potatoes too much. When Alice got home from work I showed her this year’s harvest, and she said, “let me get my camera.” She staged this picture of me holding two of the biggest we found.

We got our trusty paper shopping bags (remember them?) up from the basement, loaded them up with potatoes, and carried them downstairs one at a time. On the way to the storage shelf, I stuck each bag on the scale, and noted the weight. The total for this year was 115#, or about 20# more than last year. I think the difference was a bit more sun and rain, and some attention toward the bugs.

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