Oh the excitement!
The day which would see the eagerly anticipated unearthing of the first new spuds was finally here. Visions of tuberous bounty filled my head, as I grabbed the garden fork and gloves and sallied forth to the vegetable patch. Mentally, I had already applied steam, butter and salt to the first of many straight-from-the-garden spud dinners. Happy days.
I tackled one of the outer drills, where I had planted a new-to-me spud, Colleen, and which had been the first of the varieties planted to burst forth into flower. The foliage throughout the patch was lush, green and healthy-looking. The first few tentative probes with the fork yielded nothing and then, working the soil a little closer to the stalk, a yellowy tuber appeared.
We had lift-off. One potato, two potato, three potato…
…and then no more. To quote the immortal words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Three potatoes from one plant? Now that is what I call extremely low-yield.
I was mystified. They’d been manured. They’d had rain and watering. They’d had some heat. The plants looked healthy. However, only a few tubers had developed into anything beyond the size of a marble. I didn’t have the heart to dig up any of the other drills to see whether my Duke of Yorks and Shetland Blacks were equally miserable.
In a daze of disbelief, I trudged past what had been last year’s potato patch, where a few rogue Sharpe’s Express plants had grown from spuds that had escaped my previous harvesting efforts. I decided to dig up a few of these scrawny specimens and found that they, in their wholly neglected state, had still managed to produce more of a yield than the new spuds on the block.
Yes, it was a disappointing day down at the spud farm. Small potatoes indeed.