Potatoes, Horseradish, and Other Gifts from the Compost Pile

A few years ago, when winter was coming to an end and spring was still soggy and cold, I discovered a lone organic* potato in my kitchen. It is important to specify organic here because conventionally grown potatoes are much less likely to root and generate offspring. It was dried out, wrinkly, and way past edible.  At least six baby roots were beginning to form on the skin.  I decided to try an experiment. I cut that potato into six small chunks, each containing a single rootlet. I dug a trench in the garden on the far side of my backyard, and dropped the pieces into the trench, about 1 foot apart. I covered them with dirt and waited. A few weeks later, when potato buds began to push up through the mud, I covered them with more dirt and waited again.  I kept covering the buds until I forgot about them completely, distracted as I was by other projects. Later that summer, I found a group of straggly potato plants on the far side of the backyard, and when I finally got around to digging up those potato plants, I discovered many beautiful, golden-skinned, new potatoes, perfect in every way. Continue reading