Friday, April 6, 2007

Got Potatoes?

It's tradition around here to plant potatoes on Good Friday. My uncle has done this for years and I keep meaning to ask him what he does when winter decides to hijack spring. It's 27° and snowy. Not exactly planting weather. And why Good Friday anyway?

It seems that the tradition of planting on Good Friday came from the Catholics. They would have their seed potatoes blessed with holy water at Good Friday services. Apparently, it's just one of those practices that has been carried through time, though of course, there's nothing magical about Good Friday. It's just a good time to start potatoes, weather permitting. And I'd be hard pressed to find anyone doing anything in their garden around here today.

We planted potatoes for the very first time last year. We put them in an area that was bordered by herbs and lilies because it was kind of an impulsive move on our part and we hadn't planned a spot for them.

We bought 'Red Pontiac' seed potatoes that had already been
chitted from Walmart. The potato plant is rather attractive, but only until mid-summer, when it turns yellow and dies. Under the ground are the potatoes, growing in clusters, waiting to be dug whenever we're ready. They don't need to be dug up right away, but should be out of the ground within a few weeks after the plant has died. If you don't, the potatoes in the ground will start growing again. I found this out, because I missed some of the little itty bitties and started seeing green potato plants coming up here and there. There wasn't enough time in the growing season to let these grow to completion and produce potatoes, so I pulled them up. I love those itty bitties, because I make potato soup with them and just throw them in the pot whole.

Other early growers are peas and spinach. Especially spinach. It's a very fast grower and we were eating fresh spinach salad just a few weeks after planting. Peas are too much work for me for no more than you get, so I don't grow those anymore. Lettuce is another cool weather crop and we planted both leaf and head lettuce last year. The head lettuce was scrumptious and much better than any I've ever bought in a store. The mesclun mix leaf lettuce was good, too, but didn't store very well.

Onions like cool weather, too, and we grew sweet yellow granex, which is like the famous Vidalia onion. By law, they can't be called Vidalias unless they're grown in a specific 20-county area of Georgia, but of course they are grown elsewhere and go by their alias. Those who grow 'true' Vidalia onions say that they don't taste the same grown elsewhere though. I'd have to say that is probably true, because our Vidalia Wannabes weren't much sweeter than plain old yellow onions we've grown before. They were good, just not exceptionally sweet like we'd expected.

Since we weren't able to get our potatoes in the ground today, I consulted our copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac to see what it had to say about planting in our area. We've never paid attention to what it said before, in fact have never even consulted it. But we bought a copy this year just for fun. It says anytime in the month of May will do. The earliest planting time listed for us here in zone 5 is for parsnips, which is April 7th to the 30th. Does anyone actually grow parsnips? Does anyone eat them??

The only vegetable I've planted this early is my 'Sungold' cherry tomatoes, which have put on true leaves now. I've transplanted them to larger peat pots and they have already enjoyed a little outside time earlier this week when it was summer instead of the winter we're having now. I've got 'Chilly' chili peppers growing, too, but they're ornamental only.

This is the hardest time of year to conjure up patience, even with such frigid temperatures (16° for the low tonight!). I've got seed packets lying in wait and seedlings anxious to dig their toes into the earth. Just a little while longer...


Rod McClure JP said...

Hi Kylee,
The old Catholic idea about planting spuds on Good Friday would probably prove to be a very good idea when you take into consideration the mark of Easter dates with the constant cycle of the moon.
It just so happens that that cycle is the perfect time for planting root vegetables.
Easter dates till 2024
The commonly stated rule is that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox.
The church uses ecclesiastical tables to determine the date for Easter. These tables differ slightly from the astronomical system of determining the lunar cycle.
The vernal equinox is fixed in the ecclesiastical calendar as March 21. Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.
The following information gives the dates for Easter Sunday from 2001 to 2024:

15 April 2001 31 March 2013
31 March 2002 20 April 2014
20 April 2003 05 April 2015
11 April 2004 27 March 2016
27 March 2005 16 April 2017
16 April 2006 01 April 2018
08 April 2007 21 April 2019
23 March 2008 12 April 2020
12 April 2009 04 April 2021
04 April 2010 17 April 2022
24 April 2011 09 April 2023
08 April 2012 31 March 2024

Further information on the calculation of Easter dates can be found at the US Naval Observatory site below.
Good gardening dear friend this may not be as LUNATIC and idea as first thought.
Blessings from Australia

Kylee Baumle said...

Hi Rod,

Oh, I don't think it's lunatic (well, not in the common sense anyway!) to follow this tradition and had the weather cooperated here, we would likely have planted ours! I do know that many people plant by the moon and I'm not going to knock that at all. It would be interesting to know whether those that do and those that don't have significantly different results, though. It seems to me that there are too many variables during the growing season to reliably count or discount the moon theory.

Hope you have a blessed Easter down under! I hope to visit friends in Australia someday!

Sisah said...

>Does anyone actually grow parsnips?<
Yes, my father, a keen vegetable gardener, is growing it since ages in his garden.We didn´t really like them as children especially the way they were prepared. At the moment this vegetable is having a "renaissance" here in Germany/Europe and even Michelin three star cooks are serving meals with parsnips.

>Does anyone eat them??<
Yes, since I find this kind of vegetable in our vegetable boxes we get delivered weekly by an organic farm in Brandenburg, I eat parsnips again. My favorite recipe is a creamy soup with them or a try this pat:

Vegan Pâté with parnips

6 medium parsnips
1 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
4 cloves of garlic
4 ounces of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon curry
salt & pepper
Step 1- Toss parsnips w/ olive oil. Put 1 ounce in a bowl & roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until soft, reserve & cool.

Step 2 - Take hazelnuts, garlic, ginger and roast at 350 degrees in oven for 15 minutes, then cool.

Step 3 - In a food processor, whip hazelnut for 1 minute adding 1-2 ounces of oil. Then add parsnips & mix until totally sooth, adjust seasonings with garam masala & sea salt.

Step 4 - Let cool & serve with toasted points/ endive spears, etc.
My vegetable plot is very small, but this year I try to grow "Teltower Rübchen" a small turnip from this area .
Bon appétit
Frohe Ostern

Kylee Baumle said...


If my German cousins (yes, both of our families are from Germany) are growing them and eating them, then so should we! I think I'll have a go at eating them first, by buying a few at the grocery. The paté looks interesting and if I can find all the ingredients here, I'll try it. Thank you!

I hope you'll have a wonderful Easter as well!


Kylee Baumle said...

Oh,and Sisah? Thank you for converting measurements from metric for me. ;-)

Bob said...

Uh, I know where you can grow some 'true' Vidalia onions!!!

:smilie with sticky out tongue:

Right now, the greens are about a foot tall and the bulbs are the size of a walnut...

Kylee, Happy Easter to you and yours!

Sisah said...

Hi Kylee,
I am afraid I did not do that off my own bat that was Mr. Google who helped. :) plus my german cooking book where I found some interesting recipes for old-fashioned vegetable. One of them is called: "Vergessene Gemüse" (Forgotten vegetables).As they had in these cooking books just the european metrics I looked for a similar recipe in the WWW!

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