A Red, White and Blue 4th of July

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sack of Potatoes-Bird Back 40
It's getting to be about that time in the summer gardening year, where the yard is yielding entire meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead of heading for the pantry or refrigerator for our evening meal? Venus and I find ourselves in the Bird Back 40 first -- because one never knows what the garden is going to yield from one day to another.

Who needs a normal Saturday morning breakfast of turkey bacon and eggs, when you can treat yourself instead to five or six tree-ripened June Pride peaches instead? June Pride peach season is going to be short and sweet this year due to a couple of factors. One, the crop isn't all that big. Secondly, I'm choosing not to net the tree because of an explosion of branch growth that I'd rather not see bent to the ground. What happens when you fail to net a treasure like the June Pride peach? Can you say "Bird Buffet?" And I'm not talking about Bill or Venus Bird either -- but rather -- our fine feathered friends.

But that's the price we'll pay -- at least for this year. I'm willing to sacrifice the harvest in hopes of a much larger crop next year thanks to the exponential growth on both Bird Back 40 peach trees.

Yukon Gold Potatoes
But peaches aren't the only thing popping this July in the Bird Back 40. The multitude of crops that the wife that is Venus and I planted with care during the early spring months of March and April are now coming of age. In other words, the grand summer harvest is now underway. As you can probably guess by now, some of this harvest involves some of the best potatoes you will ever dig out of a backyard plot.

I have swooned before about potato harvests like this in past blog postings, and while there's not much more to say, there certainly is a lot to eat. Potatoes like these, which you'll now find in some stores (at a premium price I might add), bring special meals. Who wants a normal potato salad on the 4th of July when you can dress it up instead with nature's colors of red, white and blue?

All Blue Potato Monsters
This year's harvest once again involved a variety called "All Blue," featuring potatoes that are a dark purple-blue on the outside and just as purple and blue on the inside. Like many of these special hybrids, the color never fades, not even after steaming, frying or baking. We've also come to discover that you're not going to pull a lot of fat, baked-potato-size All Blues from the garden plot, unless you benefit from some heavy and sustained rainfall during the late spring months.

We didn't get that jolt of late spring rainfall this year. Instead, Mother Nature greeted us with a blast of furnace heat.

But not to worry! Because the garden plot contains more than just All Blue potatoes! There are Colorado Rose potatoes in this 4X8 raised beds. Does a fat Yukon Gold strike your fancy? Yellow banana fingerling potatoes? Bite size spuds? Whoppers the size of your outstretched hand? You'll find that and more in this bed in yet another successful year for spud production.

Colorado Rose and Yukon Gold Potatoes
Venus and I have already put the harvest to work in a number of dishes. There's more than just that Red, White and Blue potato salad to sample. How about some home-crafted vegetable beef soup that features not just potatoes, but carrots, squash, onions, green onions, tomatoes and mounds of fresh herbs procured from the backyard garden?

If that doesn't make the proverbial mouth water, then this recipe for traditional Nicaraguan Pollo Tapado most certainly will. Venus and sampled this dish a decade ago when we traveled to the home of the Sandinista Revolution, Esteli, Nicaragua, for the marriage of Venus' brother. While we have tried to duplicate this dish through the years, we have always fallen just short. But the recipe link above, which we stumbled upon just a day or two ago, nearly nails what we had at that Esteli dinner table all those years ago.

You'll notice that this recipe calls for both potatoes and rice. Nicaragua is the only nation that I know of that can get away with two starch products in one meal creation. They break the rules and make it work.

Raised Bed Potato Farming
My thanks once again for the fine potato seed providers at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply located in picturesque Nevada City. They have never once let me down, but it's best to order early, as demand almost always outpaces supply. That's why I must admit that additional seed potatoes were supplied by the Big Box store known as Lowes.

It's time for lunch, kids. Forget the fast food and the pantry. Let's see what tasty garden treat that backyard garden has to offer, shall we?