Yesterday I did something I have never done before: I planted potatoes. Three different varieties, including “Russian Blue”, which really are blue (although I am told the colour fades when you cook them. I will let you know when I find out this fall). I read up on how to plant them but was still nervous, so asked for help when I was at a family run nursery this week. A sturdy woman with calloused hands showed me exactly what to do.
To grow potatoes, you have to plant some of last year’s potatoes. The ones I had were a variety of sizes; the small ones go into the ground whole, and the larger ones are cut into smaller pieces. I made sure my seed potatoes had been exposed to light in the last few weeks, so they had begun to sprout.
Each potato needs about one square foot of garden, so I marked off a grid in one of my raised boxes and placed one seed in every section. I planted them about eight inches deep, as instructed. I covered them with earth. With any luck, they will poke their noses out of the ground before too long and look lovely blooming during the summer months.
Often when I am in the garden, something in particular will roll around in my head. Sometimes it is a tune, sometimes a phrase or a situation. Yesterday it was a phrase: “Diddley dee potatoes!”.
It comes from a Scottish comedian named Danny Bhoy and a bit that he does on the difference between Scots and the Irish. Here is a small clip from youtube:
I am married to a man named Paddy O’Brien, and his father’s family is–surprise!–from Ireland. They came to Ontario after a generation in Newfoundland, so it is hardly a close and immediate connection. Nonetheless, I count Ireland as part of our family’s heritage. And if there’s something the Irish are known for, it’s potatoes. It felt good to plant a crop of them just as generations did before us, placing bits of soft, sprouted flesh into the ground. And if that didn’t keep me smiling while I dug in the soggy soil, hearing Danny Bhoy saying “Diddley dee potatoes” surely did!