Potato Gardens Made Easy! Ask Me How!

Maybe you’ve seen this article on Facebook:"" STRAW-BALE-GARDENING-POTATOES-You’ll NEVER Grow Potatoes Any Other Way Again! My wife is obsessed with the idea. She’s already looking for a place to get hay bales. I drive a compact, so I hope I’m not expected to haul the things. But after years of married life with her, I’m guessing that’s EXACTLY what I’m expected to do. And I'll do it, too. because I like being married.

But personally, I think it’s a scam. Just listen to this come-on: “Potato harvest from bales is easy, with no fork or shovel, simply cut the strings and kick over the bales, and pick up the potatoes… You’ll have delicious potatoes until the following summer when new stock will be ready again."

Yeah. Right.

I’m having flashbacks about the summer my mother decided I didn’t have enough to do. “Enough to do” was a vegetable garden. We had an empty lot across the street from our house, owned by the church my dad pastored, and when my mom asked about planting a HUGE garden on it, the trustee chairman smiled and winked at me (maliciously, in my opinion), and said, “Sure!” That summer is the reason I decided to never go outside again, but I really grew spiritually. In particular, I prayed that our church would grow so we’d need to pave the empty lot for more parking. It did! It was! Yay, God!

A garden sounds so easy before you’re out working in it; usually all you hear about are “all the fresh vegetables right outside your door, any time you want them!” Mmm... Doesn’t that sound great? Not if you actually read the instructions for hay bale farming. “In a straw bale, simply plant the potato cutting deep into the bale… A bale may be 20 high… plant 16-18 inch deep in the bale…. The looseness of the bale will allow the stem to easily reach the surface…”

“Looseness,” my foot. I grew up in Missouri dairy country, and there is NOTHING easy about cutting into a tightly bound hay bale. I know “Easy.” “Easy” is a friend of mine. Cutting 18 inches into a bound hay bale, Sir, is not “Easy.” Now I have to buy a Sawzall.

Also, the instructions call for arranging the bales in full sun (requiring me to break my anti-outside vow), along north-south lines (I have to get a snap line and a compass or finally learn how to use GPS) between poles driven into the ground (with a post pounder through hardpan), stringing a wire trellis between the posts, and waiting for months for a plate of French fries.

Everything sounds easy when you first talk about it, and, as I’ve demonstrated, you can raise enough objections to keep from starting anything and stay on the couch (and become a potato). Every effort to lift a family out of poverty is too difficult to try.

Habitat for Humanity Fresno County is in simple defiance of the “nothing can be done” school of thought. Because we love lifting families more than we might dislike working in the hot sun or the cold rain and getting dirty and splinters and sore feet. Everything IS harder than it looks. If anything can go wrong it WILL. And 131 houses (and counting) have been built in circumstances that are too hard to work in.

Like hardpan. Which I will be pounding posts through for my wife’s hay bale potato garden. Because I like being married- more than I hate being out in the sun or waiting three months for French fries.

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