“You mean you sold our milk cow for those measly beans?!”

One of the fascinating things about parables, stories, and fairy tales is that one can find parts of oneself in all the characters.  Today I am taking the side of Jack’s mother (of Jack and the Beanstalk), who became irate at Jack’s apparent ineptitude with commerce.  Jack traded a valuable milking cow, which was the family’s only sustenance, for a ridiculously small handful of beans, purported to have magic powers.  Like, way to go, Jack!

My version of Jack in the Beanstalk’s beans – an intimidating (NOT!) clutch of pre-nuclear potatoes.

My inner ‘Mother of Jack’ rose up the other day when I finally received my pre-nuclear potatoes in the mail.  I wrote about these guys in my Feb 19th post, and I must say that the name alone suggested something, if not powerful, at least freakishly large.  I was under the spell of linguistics.  Well, when I opened that box I saw nothing powerful, nothing freakishly large, nothing in fact that might merit an adjective as forceful as nuclear.  What I saw were a few tiny mesh bags of tiny potatoes that almost cowered in the corners of the box.  Really, if these things, especially the fingerlings, were packed loose in sawdust, I would have thought someone had sent me a box of just-born, pink-skinned baby mice.  Anyway, I think I would have had less of an emotional reaction if I had paid a freakishly small amount for these potatoes, but at approximately $1 per potato there was a freakishly inverse relationship between what I paid and the size of the product I had bought.  There was Jack’s mother’s voice, “You mean you gave away your hard-earned cash for those measly potatoes?”

Well, we all know that in the story Jack’s mother doesn’t win the day.  Her seemingly reasonable view on Jack’s transaction is trumped by the magic in the beans and the as-yet unknown kingdom in the sky, with a freakishly large amount of gold awaiting Jack.  I am hoping on the same kind of fairy tale ending, that the pathetic-looking seed potatoes that I received and began planting yesterday and today will somehow magically realize their nuclear potential, go turbo, and reward me with a freakishly bountiful yield, permanently silencing my inner Jack’s Mother.

On the rooftop today, I planted four of these potatoes (or $4 worth) in four 24″ felt pots.  I had the pots about 1/3 full of soil, lightly fertilized with a basic organic fertilizer.  I placed a potato into the center of each, covered it, and rolled down the top of the felt pot until it came just a little higher than the soil level.  As the potato grows (explosively, right?), I will be rolling up the felt pot’s sides and continuing to add more soil, the idea behind this technique being that the added soil on the stem will stimulate the plant to produce more runners with tubers in the new level of soil.  Here are the photos of the work.

This pre-nuclear Austrian Crescent fingerling potato looks lost amidst a sea of dirt.  Hopefully it will soon take charge of the space and grow.
Nicely rolled felt bag.  Sides will roll upwards, as in the bag behind, when more soil is added.