Greetings and welcome fellow gardeners,
Today is Billy Albertson’s 78th birthday. Happy Birthday Billy! How appropriate he be born near the Good Friday planting “holiday.”
Good Friday is of utmost importance in the life of a southern gardener, for on Good Friday “Irsh taters” (Irish Potatoes) must be planted. As mentioned in earlier blogs, this year gardening at Billy’s will be a challenge. The garden is low-lying and still soupy from extended rains. Just yesterday we conceded that the ground might not be ready for tater planting, but we’ll press through this mere detail and plant something. Perish the thought of not touching the earth (or in this case, mud) on this hallowed of days.
I’ve been wondering, “why do we plant on Good Friday?” The Creoles of Louisiana didn’t; they believed if the ground were tilled on this day, the earth would bleed Christ’s blood. I presume they won’t be planting taters this Friday. Maybe we plant on Friday to acknowledge that we are all tiny seeds when compared to the rest of the universe. Perhaps for gardeners like Billy, it’s tradition. Great, great grandpa did it; therefore we must continue the tradition.
Yeah, I bet that’s it.
Whatever the reason, both my dad and Billy will both be working their tater patch on Good Friday. Since I’m a petite cup of water, I’m assigned tater dropping duty. I’ve dropped taters in the rain, snow, and Lord-willing this year, I’ll drop them beneath the warmth of the sun.
Honesty time: I don’t plant certified seed potatoes. A rise in temperature has encouraged the potatoes stored in my basement to release massive nutrient-seeking shoots. These shoots are currently five inches high and growing quiet impatient for the solace of dirt and comfort of the sun. Tonight, I will cube the potatoes, leaving one “shoot” (or eye) per cube. Tradition demands the potatoes be allowed to “scab over” or “harden off” to prevent the seed potato from rotting once placed in the ground. I can almost hear my husband asking, “What in the world are you doing with those potatoes?”
He doesn’t garden.
The cubes will harden off all day Thursday, then I’ll carry them to Billy’s early Friday morning. We have a big day planned. While he runs the tiller through the ground once more, I’ll collect manure from the barn. I also have a hundred onion sets to plant. We’ll have fried bologna sandwiches, sweat tea and Little Debbie Cakes for lunch. (hey, we’ve worked hard!) After lunch, I suspect there’ll be more to plant. Just yesterday Billy mentioned he was going to till up the back yard and plant some green beans saying, “I’ve really enjoyed those beans we canned last year.”
Whatever you plant on Good Friday, I wish you all the best for a bountiful harvest. Happy gardening, and remember…get those hands dirty!
Renea Winchester is the winner of the Appalachian Heritage Award. Her first book In The Garden With Billy: Lessons on Life, Love, and Tomatoes will be published in 2010. She welcomes your comments at www.reneawinchester.com