Yesterday evening after the day had cooled down and Sonny and I were caught up on other chores we were able to take time to dig up our potato patch. The potato plants were withered and dry, a perfect indication that the Kennebec potatoes hiding beneath the soil were ready for harvest. Sonny manned the spade fork, pushing it down into the soil and lifting up until those beautiful spuds were forced up from the ground.
He chuckled at me as I hurried to pick up each potato that popped up, squealing like an excited kid grabbing for candy thrown from a parade float. It was a bit like that, but for different reasons. I was so excited to see that our potatoes had turned out in abundance this year and that we had grown food that will help sustain us through the winter. Each one represented a meal.
The first pioneers must have felt much the same, because a good crop meant the difference between life and starvation in winter. A full root cellar is much more comforting than an empty one. What if you didn’t have a grocery store to run to when you ran out of food? I think it is a convenience that we take for granted.
Getting back to the land and being able to care for ourselves is a wonderful feeling. Its gives you a sense of independence and there is a satisfaction in knowing that all your sweat and toil has brought forth something of true value. It is a new life that Sonny and I have embarked on. We have always had to depend on that grocery store to keep us fed until these past few years.
There is a down side of course when your garden is hit with blight, bugs and drought. For all the comfort of a full root cellar is then dashed against the rocks. Thats why our grandparents planned ahead and always canned more than needed in a year, for the next one might not be as plentiful. Thank God for a good harvest this year! We probably harvested close to eighty pounds of potatoes. Today I laid them out on a tarp in the root cellar to cure for a while before putting them back in the baskets. Maybe next year we can build a proper potato bin.
How has your harvest been this year? We would like to hear from some of our fellow farmers or those of you who are member of a CSA or use the farmers markets. How are you preparing your pantry for winter?