We grew so many potatoes in Pennsylvania that come April, we had enough left over to cut into pieces and plant next year’s crop. They went six inches under a rather chilly ground in what was, in retrospect, the best damned organic topsoil west of Hershey. Dad always hauled in several loads of cow manure from a local dairy farm.
Skin sides of the tubers went down with the white part sticking up. We planted only according to the “Old Farmer’s Almanac”. One year, my grandmother planted potatoes under a full moon, going against recommendations from that yellow paperback, and an old wives’ tale that warned against planting potatoes in the dark of night and not early in the morning. Meme awoke to find all those little white pieces of potato she had carefully planted six inches apart, had made their way, six inches below ground, to the top of the soil where they slowly spoiled under the warm rays of an early April sun. She must have blamed the incident on some sort of curse and not the realization that gravity from a full moon may have had something to do with it. They still tell that story back there this time of year.
We ate potatoes almost every night. On a blue moon, Mom sometimes made spaghetti. Most nights it was those potatoes we planted in April that lasted all year in a cellar that stuck off from our real cellar—a little hole dug underground from our double-wide, where the potatoes stayed cool all year, despite a woodstove just a few feet away. When Mom sent me downstairs after school in the evenings, I always picked the largest, so come April there were mostly wrinkled little potatoes with all those eyes looking up at you under a thin covering of lime dust.