Rewards that have already started coming, like fresh green onions and, now, new potatoes. There is something fun and almost addictive about digging potatoes. Your best luck comes underneath the biggest plants, the ones that have a sprinkling of pointy purple blooms.
For the most part, potato digging is done blindly, with one or both hands buried in the dirt at the base of the plant, feeling for potatoes. Some of them are just under the surface. Others are deep enough I am buried up to my wrists in the soft sandy soil. You have to determine by feel if the potato is big enough to pluck up or if it needs a few more days to grow. Because of their roundness there is hardly any way to bring them up except for getting your fingers underneath and then bringing your hand up like a scoop.
On our first potato digging this year I was surprised to come across a potato so soft it was nearly mushy. Why would this potato have rotted under what appeared to be a perfectly healthy plant? I scooped and pulled, working the lump up to the surface, perplexed the whole time about what exactly I was feeling. With my other hand I pulled back the lowest leaves of the plant and squinted at the dirt covered lump. Was that a mushroom?
And then the sandy lump blinked.
It was a toad! A knotty brown toad just the size of a ripe potato, and completely covered in sand. I laughed at my find, thankful I hadn't given it a good, hard squeeze! After the boys all had a turn inspecting our unearthed amphibian we returned him to his home under the potato plant. I hope he eats all those beetles I keep seeing there!
Getting ready to leave the garden recently, we handed our first broccoli harvest to Brooklyn for her to hold while we gathered up and finished up. Next thing we knew, there wasn't much left to the broccoli. We all agreed it was a good thing we didn't ask her to hold a potato!