Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Potato, Pataaahhhhhtoe

Me and my huge Reds
      So here I am. A smidge after 5 a.m. The sun  is up, the birds are chirpping away and I am doing nothing. Just sipping my coffee and thinking that I should be out hilling my potatos before it gets hot today.

     Instead, I know I will end up eating some potatos first!
    We eat so many potatos, you would think we were Irish! - Mostly fried in the cast iron skillet with onions and peppers....YUM

potato field...100 hills
There are many ways to grow potatos. And just as many types of potatos. We generally grow Red's..Pontiac is fave. Though we occasionally have Yukons. But rarely standard Russets.
The =K guard 'Mingos (I like this shade of lipstick!)
  I hill ours. Not because I think it's the best way...But because my Holstein painted yard 'Mingos look cool out guarding the potato patch! :)
   My uncle puts in rows of Potatos out in the field and just leaves 'em to make it on their own. And they grow just fine.
  I have also has great success growing some in cardboard boxes with layers of newspaper and dirt alternated. This is great for patio gardeners!
  This gardener has always wanted to try the 'Tire' method, but hubby Vetos it...that's where you would use old tires in stackable rings. I know a lady in Denver that does this to save on garden space and conserve water. She starts with one tire on the ground filled with dirt. She usually puts about 4 potatos in it. as they grow, she adds more 'rings' and dirt. When they are 3 or so tires high, she stops stacking. And just waters for the rest of the season. After the first hard frost she takes off the rings. And presto...Many potatos without the back-breaking work of hilling!
   Storage- Most years we just dig, and store in the basement. We put ours in cardboard boxes (no lids) and don't pack them in. We pack loosely so they  can 'breath'. The reds seem to hold the best and we can eat ours all the way through April most years. Then we use whatever is left for Seed when we plant again.
  One year we had the Great Potato Fiasco. I personally planted and hilled 100 hills! -My cousins had just moved here from California and I said I would share my garden with them the first year... Fall came, hubby and boys dug the potatos. We were also still 'in the field' at this point. So hubby told the boyz to fill every barrel they could find with potatos and to drag them to the barn. He swore he'd have the boys sack 'em up and bring  'em in sooooooon. Well, soon turned out to be at Christmas when we were completely out in the house. He sent the boys out to the barn to grab a barrel and bring it in. Lo and behold... every single potato was FROZEN solid!!!....
   Did I mention that we like Potato Salad??? Every family has their own 'recipe'. Some like mustard, some put in jalapenos, some like it warm. I like it cold.
   Here's our 'family' recipe...

  Potatos & Hard Boiled Eggs  2:1 ratio  (we do 10 & 5)
  MAYO!!!! (not miracle whip)
  Onions - diced small (usually 1 good size onion does the trick)
  1 Stalk Celery - Minced
  1 can Sliced Black Olives
  Dill - lots
  Mustard - standard yellow. No fancy stuff
  Dill Relish - or a couple-three pickle spears diced up

        There is no exact recipe...You just kinda start putting it all in a big bowl and add until it tastes 'right'. ....You'll know.

( And yes... I know that the correct plural spelling is p-o-t-a-t-o-e-s)

   Have a favorite Potato recipe or story?
I'd like to know....


Thursday, May 17, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Forever stuck in my mind is the nursery rhyme:
     "Let's marry" said the cherry.
     "Why me?" said the pea.
     "Cuz you're sweet" said the beet
     "Say you will" said the dill
     "Think it over" said the clover.....

And YES, I know the remaining 36 verses!

     Over the years have honed my gardening skills. Some of my methods are unconventional. Some are handed down tips. And some I just learned as I went. There were definitely many failures. But just as many successes spurred me on.
   I think I just absorbed a love of the dirt and the whirrrrr of the mower. My Dad was forever puttering in the yard, My Grandpa was a master tomato grower and my Grammy always had geraniums in buckets on the stairs in San Francisco.
My dad and me
   My first flowers were Nasturtiums. It remains a favorite. We planted them in like the first grade at school as a Mother's Day project. On the way home with my precious plant, my brother knocked it out of my hand and the pot broke. I think I've been growing them ever since just to prove a point!
  One year my hubby brought home 'seed' potatoes from one of his customers. I planted them with care and hilled. And hilled. and hilled some more. Fall came. We went to dig up the potatoes...and imagine my surprise to find out they were Fingerlings! Nice, pretty, fancy, itty bitty potatoes.
  One year we had potatoes as big as my head!

I usually plant a double row of corn all the way around my garden, leaving little 'gates' on all four sides. The first year I did it I called it Corn-wallis...It wasn't so funny after I had to explain Cornwallis.
  The cornwall protects everything else. It can blow gale force winds and nothing on the inside is ruined. The corn just stands back up. It also helps to keep it a little more humid in the square, which makes my plants happy. You can also plant shade loving plants near the corn.
  Hubby likes hot radishes, so they are planted with the onions.  I make my tomatoes grow bigger and sturdier by pinching off all the bottom leaves and most of the first blooms as well.
   An old kettle BBQ is a planter for my carnations and petunias. And We have a HOT PINK Adirondack chair and ottoman one of the boyz made in school. ( he swore he would take it when he moved....he didn't so now it's mine) That's where hubby sits to watch me garden.
                    For me I think it is the satisfaction of knowing 'I did it!'
   In a later post I will have my favorite pickled beet recipe and one for corn relish.
     Some tips I have learned..*Never plant a full 25 ft row of lettuce at one time. You will never eat it all!
* Do not forget your potatoes in the barn...They WILL freeze solid in the winter in ND * As in the field, you should rotate your 'crops' in the garden. * When you are stressed, you can work it off in the garden by beating the hoe on the ground and imagining who is annoying you!

This how part of my garden grows!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's all in a name!

                                        I have been called many names.
                                                     Rarely the one I prefer...
Me and Hubby
    Honey, Baby, Kate, Pita, Sweetie, Sweetheart, Mutha (it's an Italian thing...) Darling, Sugar, Katherine, LeMoo (a nickname for LeDoux) Mom, Mama, Mother (one word and two!) Mommy, Cookie, His wife, Kathy, The Boyz's mom - as in "Hey! James' (insert kid name here) mom..."  Boo Boo Kitty, Queenie, Light of my life, Katchya, Katya, Mom-Kat, Mrs. TomKat, Jim's daughter, Stace's sister, Hey you, Damnit!! -usually attached to a Kate or Katherine...
                              But rarely KATY!!!!!