"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Late Potatoes and Neighborly Relations

I just spent the last twenty minutes searching my blog for a picture of our neighbor's house and couldn't find one. Such is the result of sloppy cataloguing. I know for a fact I took several pictures of the neighbor's house in various states of construction and also that I complained mightily about it. The house they built is approximately 7,000 square feet. It looks more like a Holiday Inn than an ordinary house. And of course they chose the one building site that would entirely block our gorgeous view of Mt. Baker. I spent a fair amount of verbiage kvetching about McMansions and bemoaning our fate as the land around us got built up.

As it turns out, however, the new neighbors are totally delightful people. They are an older couple, semi-retired and with a few children in university who are semi-moved out but who spend a fair amount of time at home still. They are immigrants from India, Sikhs, and similarly to ourselves, are interested in creating a homestead to provide a significant portion of their gustatory needs.

Though our motives are similar, it's clear that they are pursuing similar goals with considerably greater financial resources than our own. The house they built demonstrates that, for one thing. Shortly after they moved in, I rang their doorbell with a dozen eggs and a jar of cajeta in hand. I was treated to a tour of their home, which included two indoor and one outdoor kitchens; a sauna; a wine cellar; and vast expanses of hardwood flooring and granite countertops. Everywhere was the gleam of stainless steel and the mellow shine of slate. Two story windows frame the beautiful view of Mt. Baker - the view we had until last fall.

Give me a minute to swallow my gall.

I was greatly mollified by my neighbor's warm welcome and standing invitation to come on over for tea anytime. They also invited me to pasture my goats on their five acres, at least until they were fully moved in. They came by regularly to buy eggs and always brought large jars and egg cartons. Really they are sweet, friendly people and I have no complaints about them whatsoever.

Last week, my neighbor bought himself something that we covet so dearly it made us literally drool. He bought a brand new Kubota tractor with a front loader and a tiller. The only thing that kept us from spontaneously combusting with envy is that it doesn't have a monkey paw. Obviously entranced with his new toy, our neighbor has been spending several hours of every day out plowing his fields. Five acres really isn't so big, and he quickly ran out of land to plow. Soon he was knocking on our door, asking if we would like him to do some work on our property.

I must have been confused: I somehow got the idea that he was going to mow the tall grass on the border of our land. I said Great! Thanks! The grass was way too tall for our poor old 11 HP Murray lawntractor (Once again - a quick search of the blog has not turned up the series of posts relating to the ongoing SAAAGA of the lawnmower. It is the bane of my husband's existence.). I eagerly accepted what I thought was my neighbor's offer to mow down the tall grass and thistles.

When I got home in the early evening, I saw that I had been sadly mistaken. My neighbor has tilled the ground, not mowed the grass. That meant that if I didn't want that ground to become a large patch of evil weeds, I would need to sow grass seed - quickly. And perhaps in vain - mid June is pretty darn late to plant grass. I did buy a 50 pound sack of horse pasture grass mix (for $55), sowed it, and watered it well. Then we enjoyed the good luck of a couple of days of soaking rain. I think we have a pretty good chance of the grass seed sprouting before the natural weeds take over.

Today, however, I found myself eyeing the freshly turned ground with another plan. Several weeks ago, I used a regular shovel to turn over a 40 foot long trench of ground in which to plant potatoes. It took me a good two hours to turn the ground, and then to chop up the clumps with a hoe and finally to rake the dirt relatively smooth. After all that, it was another couple of hours to actually plant the potatoes. I had bought several pounds of seed potatoes - russets, red bliss, yukon golds, and russian banana fingerings. As it turned out, a forty foot trench is not long enough to plant several pounds of seed potatoes. About half of them stayed in their brown paper bags in the greenhouse, awaiting the unlikely event of my turning over another forty feet of virgin ground.

Until today. I looked at the well tilled ground and it suddenly occurred to me that I could plant the leftover potatoes in it. Yes, it is quite late for potatoes. There is such a thing as late-variety potatoes, but I haven't the vaguest idea which varieties they are. Most likely they aren't russian bananas. But what the hell- the russian bananas have a better chance of growing in my recently tilled mid-June earth than they do of growing in paper bags in the greenhouse. The worst that can happen is that they utterly fail to thrive. That's not such a big deal.

The best that can happen is that they do excellently, that I dig them up sometime in late August, that I make a magnificent Indian spiced potato salad, and bring them to a barbecue at my neighbor's house, and that our families become fast friends and enjoy many happy culinary occasions together over the years.


The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

"things are often not what they seem" ;) I'm glad to hear your new neighbors are such wonderful folks! What a relief it must be to know that your families are both of like minds.
I hope the potatoes get a great growing season!

The Idiot said...

We have a strain called Carlingford which crops until Christmas (although the frost got mine). If you can get seed potatoes, go for a very early strain and you'll get a crop before things turn nasty. Just give them plenty of water.

Laura said...

Lemonade from lemons - gotta love it!

Good luck with the 'taters - I'll be interested to see how they turn out!

Dea-chan said...

I'm so happy to hear that your neighbors are everything a neighbor should be! Good luck with your taters!

WeekendFarmer said...

Wow. Lucy you. My neighbor with his 200 acres looks at my 2 acres and passes me by with indifference with his tractor. His version of the story...he can't help me b/c he doesn't have clearance. Ah well. *sigh*. I would be happy to have someon till the land. Good luck with the seeds. I have had my share of grass saga. My question...what they need two kitchen for? : )