Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Tater Menace and my Very First Garden Ever

No.  That photo is not from my first garden ever.  It's the potato patch from last year.  But it reminds me of my very first garden.  Today, I was chatting with a friend about getting my garden started and I suddenly remembered the first thing I ever grew.  At least, right now it seems like it was the first thing.

I was somewhere between seven and ten years old.  We were living in a rental house in Seward Nebraska.  One spring evening, I was helping my Mom with dinner when I found a potato in the back of the cupboard that had sprouted a bit.  She said we wouldn't be able to eat it and I should throw it away.

Now, we had been talking about food production in school and I had recently learned how potatoes were grown.  I became intrigued.  Was this something I could actually DO?

I asked if I could plant it.

Mom said she didn't think it would grow.  After much begging and many 'pleases', she relented and even gave me a second tiny potato she didn't want to peel.  Then, she told me I'd have to wait until after dinner because it was nearly ready and I shouldn't get all dirty before I eat.

The wait was interminable.  But, finally, dinner was eaten and the clean-up was done.

I grabbed my potatoes and hurried out to the swing set. Everything cool happened at the swing set.  In the gathering twilight, I found a pointy stick we had been playing with the day before. I dug two holes in the ground near the end of the swing set and planted my potatoes just under the surface in the heavy, compacted clay of the play yard.  I figured they'd be safe from trampling feet there.

Turns out they were.  It also turns out that the extra bath I had to take that night was totally worth the trouble.

I don't remember being particularly vigilant in my treatment and care of the potatoes or if they even produced.  I do remember bouncing for joy on the day I saw them both sprouting from the ground and being super protective of my potato plants.  Our neighbors had a three-legged dachshund that I was suspicious would try to pee on my garden so I shooed it away every time I saw it.  Looking back, I realize that the dog was also about 20 years old, badly crippled, and nearly blind.  Furthermore, when he was outside the house, he was nearly always on a long tether that let him roam slowly around the grassy bank in their backyard and nowhere near the alleyway that divided our yard from theirs.

Poor old Sam was probably not the tater menace I made him out to be.

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