According to the Clemson University Cooperative Extension planting guide, coastal South Carolina gardeners should get their irish potatoes in the ground between the 1st and 15th of February. I'm rather proud to say that I got my potatoes planted today, only 4 days after the suggested planting period.
Yesterday, I stopped at the McClellanville Feed and Seed and purchased about 10 lbs of Red Pontiac seed potatoes - and this morning I cut them up, being sure to have a few 'eyes' on each piece. While they potatoes were drying a bit, I worked on preparing the bed. I have one square raised bed that for most of the winter was covered in a thick layer of wheat straw - so I racked the straw off of the bed, turned the soil over a bit (with a pitchfork) and then placed the potatoes pieces on top of the ground.
I then covered the potatoes with the two bales of wheat straw that had been protecting my satsuma all winter (I couldn't resist keeping the one clump of arugula that is beginning to flower - arugula flowers are quite beautiful things). If you've never grown potatoes (and perhaps rationally assume that since they are so inexpensive in the grocery store, that they aren't worth growing) - then you are missing out - like most things, they are incredible when prepared right after harvest.
So... Red Pontiacs join the leeks, two types of garlic, shallots and sweet onions that were planted last fall.
Tomorrow: two types of radishes, beets, carrots and turnips.
~view from my hotel window, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 13 February 2011~
I return on Thursday afternoon from a warm and breezy week in Puerto Rico - a lovely week filled with unexpected first class travel, mango drinks (mango-rum-ritas!), fish tacos, fascinating and fun company, good science, and a cabana (one that was always empty, waiting just for me to enjoy). To say that I needed such a week is an understatement...and now here I am, on a warm Saturday morning along coastal SC, happy to be home. More on Puerto Rico later, and more on the lab's transition to a new space later as well - for now, I have perennial beds to clean out, winter vines to cut back, red pontiac potatoes and beets to plant, and dogs to spoil.
The daffodils are up, four or five inches high - a few buds are rising above the foliage on a few of them. The tips of the hyacinths have appeared, magically - why is it that every year they do this, and every year I feel as if it's magic? I'm imagining that the buds on the hydrangeas are swelling (please, let me live in my dream world) and I know that the roses are putting out tiny new leaves. Even more miraculous than all of these events is that I actually went out into the garden for about 30 minutes this week and pruned roses. I haven't spent 30 minutes in my garden for much too long. I need to spend a week there, without raising my head or washing the dirt out from under my fingernails or checking my Blackberry.
Tomorow I head to Puerto Rico for a workshop and conference. San Juan. Most of it will be spent indoors, but I hope to spend some time outside, walking, sitting in the sunshine and warm breeze. Mid-80s according to the weather folks. My poster presentation is safely put away in a tube, my oral presentation is on two jump drives and an FTP site. I haven't packed.
Honestly? I'd rather stay home, enjoy the 60-degree days that are in the forecast, and just sit and weed (the florida betony is much too happy). I crave quiet, emptying my mind of thoughts - I want to contemplate where the spinach will go this year, and whether I should get a coral bark japanese maple. I'd like to spend an afternoon simply watching the Pointer Sisters run.
Not this blog...it's staying put (although it's a bit neglected and suffering from a serious case of attention deficit disorder). But the lab's physical presence is moving - from this space, to a spot about 70 miles north. Yeah, it's a long story (that's not meant for these pages) - and it's why I've been so preoccupied for months (well, it's one reason why I've been so preoccupied for months). Bottomline: as of today, all of the Microbial Lab's microorganisms were relocated to the new space - which involved a large amount of dry ice, numerous large coolers, and cold fingers. But I am happy (and relieved) to report that all of our microbial subjects are safely stowed in their new -80C freezer.
So, I suppose I've told this story by spilling the end first. Oh, it's not the end end - and I suppose I'll eventually tell the story, in pieces, snapshots, soundbytes. At the end of the day, at the end of this day - what it represents is change. Inevitable (and not asked for but perhaps much needed) change.
"Everything changes, nothing remains without change."
Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta (founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)