The time to begin planting has finally arrived.
The ground is nearly ready for planting here in Minnesota Zone. Cold hardy crops are beginning to go in; my rhubarb and asparagus are ready to be picked (anyone else’s puppy babies love asparagus?). The raspberries, grapes and blueberries have budded out and soon will be full of flowers giving way to loads of delicious fruit.
My husband works side by side with the farmers preparing their fields so they can plant, and this has been a very wet spring. Crunch time is upon them and that always means our personal gardens lag way behind. Typically, I don’t mind this as I prefer not to plant until the very end of May. By end I mean I’m still planting the beginning of June. Minnesota weather is way to unpredictable to plant sooner than that. The last few days felt like summer, nearly 80 and sunny outside. Two days from now, we are forecasted to reach 37 degrees overnight. Sigh.
Anyway, back to my story…
The plan this year is to expand our growing space significantly. We hope to grow enough storage crops to get us through the entire winter. With it being so wet, my husband has been tied up at work, regularly putting in 15-hour days, and when he’s around, it’s raining. All this means the new garden hasn’t happened yet and that was where I planned to plant our potatoes.
On a normal year, whatever that means, I would have had potatoes in the ground three weeks ago. This is not a normal year. I opened the boxes they arrived in yesterday to be greeted by a handful of rotten spuds and others that were headed the same direction. Then I realized I had no place to plant them.
At least that’s what it felt like.
We have roughly 1800 sq. feet of growing space right in our backyard. Every year it is a beautiful display of permaculture style vegetable gardening and our family’s oasis in the middle of town. I could just simply plant the potatoes back there. The ground is ready, we are about to get more rain, the potatoes need to go in the ground, and I know how to work a shovel.
Here’s the thing though, I really didn’t want to plant them back there or use a shovel.
You see, I was planning on saving the space in my backyard for all the crops that need consistent harvesting. Things like asparagus, beans, tomatoes, greens, broccoli, eggplant, berries, cucumbers. Potatoes were not in the plan. Not only that but I really like to plant my potatoes no dig style. Basically, one just maneuvers them a few inches into the soil and then covers them heavily with straw. By heavily I mean about 12 inches. Then, you simply water them well, so the straw stays put, and your done.
Oh wait, I don’t have my straw yet. So, what did I do?
That’s right. I grabbed my shovel and headed out to the garden to loosen the 144 sq. feet that I would need to plant the potatoes that absolutely needed to get in the ground now. Did I know then that’s how much ground I would be preparing? Absolutely not. I would dig a bunch, plant some potatoes and then dig some more. I’m not going to lie, it felt really good to finally get my hands dirty and plant something that will be food for the winter.
Then, a bird pooped on me.
As a gardener I think there are four traits that you will inevitably develop over time; flexibility, hope, faith and patience.
I can’t think of a single year where a situation like this hasn’t arose. Without a doubt there will always be some crop that out of necessity needs to be planted immediately and it will have to go somewhere I hadn’t wanted it to go.
Life is like that a lot of times to am I right? In those moments, I can either choose to stay frustrated and disappointed or I can be flexible, and have faith that if I do my part, God will do his part and save our potato crop from rotting. I can wait, hopeful to see those first signs of growth, and then continue to wait patiently for the harvest. And I will pick up my straw this weekend to put on top of my newly dug potatoes.
You never know what the rest of the growing season will be like. Maybe the weather will continue to be wet as it has the last couple of years and my potatoes wouldn’t have produced well in the new garden space. Or maybe since it is full sun all day long out there and I am getting them planted late, they would have been too hot and not produced well.
When it’s all said and done, I kind of like where they’re planted now. Plus, it means one can sneak out into the backyard in the middle of summer and snatch a few baby tators for the grill that night. If I’m being honest, I still have around a quarter of the potatoes saved to plant out at the new garden. If they stay nice until then.
I guess one will just have to have faith, wait patiently, be flexible and hope for the best.
Until next time, I’ll be in the garden.