Our fifteen minutes of fame now over -- it's time to move on to bigger and better gardening delights. This is gardening season my friends. Yeah -- I know -- it may not look like it outside -- but the month of April is pretty darn crucial in terms of getting work done. If only Mother Nature would cooperate.
Venus and I are actually behind on the gardening front. At this point last year? Venus had filled up an entire 4X8 bed with two varieties of seed potatoes. By early April? The first sprouts were poking above the soil. We were on our way to a monster potato harvest that year -- and the wife's goal of a Red, White and Blue Potato Salad for the 4th of July holiday was FULFILLED.
This year? Sorry Venus. It appears were out of luck. A range of factors -- some that were out of my control -- will probably prevent an early July harvest this year.
The biggest error -- however -- appears to be all on me. I made the wrong move in assuming that I would find a bountiful supply of seed potatoes when I visited Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in the foothill community of Grass Valley two weeks ago.
Oh -- they had -- and still have a good selection of seed potatoes alright. These two bags of "All Blue" and "Colorado Rose" potatoes are evidence of that. At some point -- Venus will be chopping these up and planting them into one of our raised beds.
But -- I was too late to find our personal favorite: Cranberry Red. This is a wonderful variety. Much like "All Blue," the Cranberry Red variety doesn't lose that light red streaky color, even after cooking. Not only was Peaceful Valley out of this particular variety -- I would soon find out that EVERY nursery I contacted either didn't stock it -- or sold the last Cranberry Red spud eons before I called.
What does this mean? It probably means that Cranberry Red won't be a part of our potato plantings this spring -- OR -- it will be planted far too late to produce in time for a "Red, White and Blue" Potato Salad creation for the 4th of July. Don't be fooled. The wife creates a mean potato salad. Add in the colorful display? Suddenly -- you're the envy of every other wife at the big bash block party.
The second key factor in all of this is the weather is just not cooperating this year like it did last season. Don't get me wrong. The weather in April of last year wasn't perfect. We got very lucky when a bed of tomato plants survived a late, warm, April rain. But it was a lot nicer -- and warmer -- in April of last year than it is this year. And next week's weather forecasts are enough to make a grown gardener cry.
But that's Mother Nature for you. I can still remember my mother singing the familiar tune of "April Showers Bring May Flowers" while I wistfully sat inside during the April weekends of my youth -- missing yet another youth baseball game opportunity (I played the position of Left Out).
And -- who knows? Maybe our April lament will turn into a mid-July surprise when we hopefully harvest a bountiful crop of Colorado Rose Red Potatoes? No -- it doesn't retain that "All Red" color (even after cooking) -- but the reviews look pretty darn tasty. The website "Maine Potato Lady" gives Colorado Red a solid thumbs up:
"With Cherry Red as one of its parents, Colorado Rose was bred for high yield and early bulking. Attractive oval red tubers with white flesh are great for those early summer salads or roasting. Resistant to hollow heart, second growth, and bruising. Medium semi-erect plant with purple flowers."
If there's one thing that I've learned about gardening -- it's this: Never be afraid to try something new. At one point in my life -- not all that long ago -- I believed that a potato was a potato and nothing more. They all tasted the same.
Then I grew my own and learned the real truth. Potatoes can be a lot like heirloom tomatoes in terms of color -- taste and texture. All you need is some seed spuds and the urge to create your own, personal, Frankenstein monster in your backyard garden.