Sometimes potatoes just go overboard with optimism. Take this one, for example:
|Nov. 24, 2011|
I planted it five years ago, in the bed that now holds the Sad Sand Cherry but at the time was home to a Truly Miserable Golden Currant (Ribes aureum x Tristissimus). The idea—brilliant, so far as it went—was to grow the potatoes just inside what would become the currant's drip line once it matured. In the meantime the spuds would fill a large space in the infant garden with swaths of greenery, practically for free. Since I would be giving the new plantings extra water anyway, the potatoes would get all they needed to flourish. Gently unearthing the tubers with a small garden fork at season's end would loosen the compacted soil again, and the currant's roots would have an easy time spreading into that area their second year. And then there would be potatoes to eat.
The delicate bubble of genius, alas, was no match for the freshly sharpened tungsten carbide circular sawblade of reality. The potato leafhoppers moved in for the kill, drat them, and none of the potatoes survived for more than a month or two. That fall I planted other things in their place and then forgot about the potatoes altogether. Great was my surprise the following spring, when one little spud sent up a hopeful shoot amid the tulips and yarrow. It grew in a small (3- or 4-inch) way until June, when the heat and aridity (and leafhoppers) proved too much for it. Then it withered sadly away, to hoard its resources for the following spring.
Every year since then, it has done the same thing. I have begun to look forward to seeing the potato raise its little hand every spring, in the way that
Lately the tenacious tuber has changed tactics. If summer is too hot and dry, it seems to be thinking, then why not come up in the fall? A few weeks ago, in a bed that by now is in deep shade, this frost-sensitive, sun-loving plant began sending up a hopeful shoot. I showed it the calendar, with the average first frost date marked in red; I showed it the blackened basil and marigold leaves in the garden's less protected places, to no avail. Sometimes a potato just will not recognize the difference between hope and denial. It will not be discouraged.
|Nov. 29, 2011|
At least, not until it's too late.