From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
The first house I ever owned [May, 1973] was a 3-bedroom cracker-box in a brand-new subdivision just outside Dublin, Ireland, and one of the first projects I took on was the huge garden out back. I was told that the most sure-fire crop to grow in an Irish garden of that size was potatoes. It was my first venture at anything like gardening, and I learned a lot about the need for back-breaking work followed by big-time patience.
The process started out as straight-up back-breaking work: first, soften up the ground with a shoulder-dislocating rottatiller, then spread out a load of cow manure and dig it in. All that got done before September.
Then I bought 15 pounds of what were called “seed potatoes” – which, I was told, were to be stored in a cool dark space: for us it was a tray in the coal shed. I continued following some fairly simple, common-sense advice: cut the potatoes so that at least three tubers [little protrusions growing from the side of the potato] would grow in each section, and leave them until the spring. Do it right, I was assured, and I’d harvest 10 times the amount of seed potatoes: 15 pounds produces 150 pounds!
I started planting them the following St Patrick’s Day, March 17, the traditional day for planting potatoes: create a cone-shaped protrusion about 4 inches deep in the flakey soil with the handle of a shovel and carefully place one of those 3-tuber bits of potato, then cover with the soft earth so gently that those little protrusions wouldn’t break. Separate each planting by about 18 inches with the rows about 3 feet apart.
Then in the coming weeks add more soil to protect from frost the tiny shoots that would appear above ground. Eventually the frost will taper off as the summer takes hold, and the little shoots grow into a substantial bush about 18 inches tall on which blossoms would eventually appear. When the blossoms begin to fall off you know the time has come – finally! - to dig up those potatoes.
Was all that back-breaking work worth it? Well, put it this way: those original 15 pounds kept a husband, wife and two kids in potatoes from July through December.
Like I say: back-breaking work followed bny big-time patience. And as The Provider I felt like a million bucks!