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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Apr 23, 2010

Okay, the potatoes are planted. A mere 30 days ago, there was a couple feet of snow covering the ground. Today, there are potatoes underneath bare ground that has been tilled, fertilized and planted. The rest is up to the forces of nature with some occasional weed pulling.

Just after the July 4 holiday, we will taste the first new potatoes in anticipation of the coming harvest. There are some forms of pleasure that are almost too good for words and money cannot buy, you just have to be there

Whether they will be transformed by baking, frying, or mashing, they will be enjoyed at one meal, reheated, and enjoyed again at the next meal. They may even be around for a third meal, but you will never see any thrown away.

How can such a small piece of ground with not that much work produce so much pleasure?

When my wife arrived here 17 years ago and expressed an interest in a small garden, I pointed her to this piece of ground that was just growing brome grass between the driveway and a steel building. She was doubtful on the ground’s ability to grow anything, but I assured her it just needed some attention.

What I liked about it was that it was next to the driveway so every time we drove in or out we would look the garden over and see what attention it needed.

We do well until mid-July when the really big weeds seem to grow inches each day practically taking over.

From mid-August on, visitors will be served fresh potatoes and frequently will take a few home with them.

By Thanksgiving, the last homegrown potatoes will be served and another potato season will end.

I am always amazed at what a few dollars of seed potatoes, a few dollars of fertilizer and herbicide on a piece of ground that was a place where weeds grew can accomplish.

The return from this small investment of time and money is huge. How do you measure the value of a bowl of fresh homegrown mashed potatoes being passed around the table by family and friends?

To help things along, there are peppers and onions to add to the pleasure of the meal. There is another sense of pleasure seeing food on a plate knowing that it was carried in from the garden a few feet away only hours earlier.

Menus are determined not so much by what we want as what is ready. If there is an abundance of something, then recipes are chosen that include that item as an ingredient. It is a wealth of choices.

While the nutritionists of the world would disagree with me, in my world there are two food groups meat and potatoes. Everything else is an accessory, good but not required.

My meat and potatoes can be a hamburger and French fries, a pork chop with garlic mashed potatoes or a Porterhouse steak with a baked potato. A few peas or some corn is okay but as far as I am concerned, a meal starts and ends with meat and potatoes. I can even skip dessert (unless it is fresh apple pie, hold the ice cream).

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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