I wonder how many folks reading this have ever “hilled” potatoes.
What’s that you say? “Hilled potatoes”?
That’s right. Let’s start with the basics. We’re in the family garden. Mom and Dad never did anything small when it came to the garden, so our potato section could have fed the Irish during their famine!
Potatoes don’t grow on trees. They grow underground. The tiny plant shoots out of the ground and is allowed to grow for a while. While the soil is still loose from tillage, Bro and I, hoes in hand, would heap the soil at the base of each plant, forming a little “hill” around it. This provided the underground condition most conducive for potatoes to grow.
Hilling potatoes was never fun. It was hot, sweaty work. Prior to starting, we’d already done a few hours of hot, sweaty work in the cow barn, so hilling potatoes was just a hot, sweaty variation.
It always amazed me, the number of potatoes grown by a single plant. Scads of them! No wonder hilling potatoes was just nothing but ingratifying work. Nothing was left too show for it.
Digging potatoes at harvest time was, at least, a little gratifying. The Jersey ground grew them like mad, some too big to fit on a dinner plate. When baked, cut one open, throw in a generous hunk of freshly churned butter, salt and voila.
I quote from the cover of MEMOIRS of a JERSEY FARM BOY, “We worked like peasants, we ate like kings.” Funny how, at the time, my juvenile mind didn’t realize how privileged I was.