HILLING POTATOES

If you’ve previously read my meanderings, you will know of our gargantuan family garden.

This is the way it was: We only milked a herd of cows 365 days a year, two times per day. There was plenty of extraneous work appurtenant to dairying, 365 days a year.

For awhile, we had a flock of 500 laying hens to feed Dad’s egg route.

Then there was fence repair, filling potholes in the lane, painting the barns, patching barn roof leaks, scything thistles, trapping groundhogs and forking untold tonnage of manure and wet bedding from heifer pens and spreading it in the fields.

This, of course, this assumes that the manure spreader was working.

Last but not least, there was the garden. The damned garden. Is it any wonder that we didn’t burst with enthusiasm about seeding, hoeing, weeding, watering, culling, picking, freezing… not to mention HILLING POTATOES!

What’s that, you say. Hilling potatoes ?

I would not disparage you if you asked, “what the hell is hilling potatoes?”

I almost felt like cracking wise with Dad ! “Is there any more shit you can pile on this day ? Now you want hills on the potato plants? Should I get a bulldozer?”

That, of course, I never said, but, oh, was there temptation!

Meanwhile, “hilling” was a simple enough growing method, but a miserable job, especially in the heat of Summer. The guys doing the work mound dirt in a circle around each potato plant; not burying it, but a substantial build up of soil forming a circle around the plant.

This allowed the plant to continue to grow, including more root growth which meant more potatoes.

Here’s a secret for all of you Potato Heads: At harvest time, the potatoes that grow in the newly mounded soil, the hills, are much easier to gather from the ground . The soil just falls of of them.

That simple fact may win you the daily double on JEOPARDY some day, just because years ago you kept your nose to the grindstone and hilled those potatoes to near delirium! Congratulations in advance!

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