Potato Bugs and Ponderings

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Dear friends,

The first summer we had the farm, which was five years ago, we were extremely busy doing cleanup, but managed to plant a few potatoes and some sweet corn in the kitchen garden. It was very exciting for us to have some land and to plant even on such a small scale. I remember when Larry told me there was some old hay in the loft we could use around the potatoes, I thought, “We have hay?” It was like a dream. Later, when the potatoes came up, I was concerned that when I left, the potato bugs would take over. Larry said they didn’t even know we were out there yet! He was wrong, and we managed to harvest wonderful Yukon Gold potatoes. They were the best we had ever eaten.

We’ve had a drought in the area around our farm, but there were a couple good things that came out of it. There are few mosquitoes or chiggers which set me to puzzling over if a drought lasted long enough, would they become extinct? Or, would we?

Anyway, if you have been wondering if the drought caused a shortage of potato bugs, don’t fret. We have discovered that when the grasses are dead, it leaves room for those horrible yellow sticker bushes to grow, and grow they did. Guess what? Potato bugs love sticker bushes, too. At first, Larry thought that only the “learning disabled” bugs were on them, but not so. I found one or two on practically every large sticker bush I whacked off this weekend, and I’m talking about hundreds. They would probably be called yellow sticker bush bugs if it wasn’t so hard to say.

A potato bug is the cutest little thing, if bugs can be cute, and I actually like to do bug patrol. I take a large cottage cheese or yogurt container filled with water and a squirt of dish soap, walk down the rows until I spot one and swish him off the leaf into the water. They are often mating and I can get two at a time! They lay their eggs on the leaves where a beneficial lady bug might come along and eat them. Last patrol, I got over a hundred, but saw only one lady bug. I’m not counting on that plan!

Look at that cute little face! Time for a bath!

Beautiful potato plants.

Here is a photo of the first digging of Yukon Gold potatoes last year. The skin is so tender, all one needs to do is scrub them before cooking.

Side track: Do you ever think, “What if?” We play that game quite often. Example: “What if you couldn’t get seed potatoes next year?” My answer is that I fill a couple egg cartons with egg sized potatoes and keep them in the fridge. Yes, it works!