City Girl Gone Gardening: Poor Potato Plight

By Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley

Louisville, Ky. – Despite this past weekend’s absolutely gorgeous weather, the recent deluges have left days of frustration in their wake for those of us who do like to get a jump start on their gardening. April rains can be a Godsend, or a vexation.

Take my Poor Potatoes, as I am now calling them.

My backyard plot for potatoes.
My backyard plot for potatoes. That’s our dog, Storm, in the corner. She has a role in this drama later.


This is Planting Day on March 23rd, which is already a no-no according to my backdoor neighbor. My former country girl neighbor told me years ago to get potatoes in the ground before St. Patrick’s Day. It didn’t happen. The ground was just too darn soggy.

When it did dry out a bit, my darling family surprised me by coming out to our little backyard to help me.

“Dad, is this something we HAVE to do,” asked my beloved, pre-teen middle child.

“Yes. It’s your mother’s birthday week,” my very smart husband said.

So we raked, ripped up and removed the weeds (yeah, if it’s green in my yard, it’s likely not grass) and dumped last year’s potted dirt in the plot.

As for the potatoes, I purchased “seed” potatoes from Gagel’s Farm. Lindsey Gagel was very helpful in giving me some tips.

“Cut the potatoes in quarters and see these little white things growing out? Those are eyes. Some say to plant a piece of potato with less eyes, some say more. But it’s always up to you,” she told me. “Don’t plant too deep and mound up dirt around the pieces.”

She even said my old potting soil would be just fine.

So that’s what I and my family did. Roughly one hour later, this was the result.

Not too bad for a rough hour's worth of work.
Not too bad for a rough hour’s worth of work.








Oh! The Humanity!
Oh! The Humanity!

Yep. Those are exposed potatoes, canyons of dirt created by running rain water and just a plain ol’ mess. Lord knows how many my dog ate. Sigh.

Always never trusting my own instinct, I asked my mom if all was lost and she said no. Just replant them. Of course, my mom is always right, but I asked somebody else anyways.

My husband and I had stopped by Phelps Do It Best Hardware in Fairdale and I asked Mr. Barry Phelps, himself, if I could replant the same “seeds”.  He confirmed what my mother told. Yep. Mom’s Always Right.

So I replanted them. Having learned my lesson, I piled more dirt around each little mound and hoed the dirt in-between each row. Mom says that’s to give the potatoes room to spread. If the rain-soaked ground dried without being loosened, it would turn into rock and there would be nowhere for the roots and tubers to spread.

And then it rained again. But, after quick inspection, nothing is exposed and no canyons running through the little plot. It has been raining for the past two days, so like a woman obsessed, I’ve been running out to the plot in between showers to check for run-off. So far, so good.

Whether my Poor Potatoes pop up is still up in the air.