A few weeks ago, I noticed that the potato which had been living in the bowl on my counter had started to sprout. At first, I was annoyed. Another potato, wasted. I pride myself on not wasting produce. I plan meals, I buy what we need. And I don't usually buy extra potatoes. Because I don't even really like them all that much. Which my husband thinks is akin to blasphemy.
But then, I wondered. What would happen if I just let it grow? It would be fun for the kids to watch, at least.
So I did a little research on the internet, poked some toothpicks into the side of it, put it in a glass that I refilled with water when I remembered to do so (which was probably less regularly than it deserved), and put it in a sometimes-sunny window.
At first, it grew slowly, trying to figure out which way to send shoots, and which way to send leaves. But one morning I woke up and there were stalks. And then, real leaves.
I should have planted it by now. It could make me more potatoes this summer. And (though I think I see one tiny little red potato growing already in the bottom of the cup) if I really want it to be healthy, it needs more than water and sun. It needs soil.
But I've grown attached to my awkward-looking experiment, and I worry about what will happen when I change the equilibrium I've created. What if I break off these pieces, and they die? What do I really know about potato farming, anyway?
I've thought a lot about putting down my own roots here, where I am now. How in some ways it happened so randomly (my husband and I were evicted from our last apartment because our landlord wanted to sell), but how it's become home, how I've created a network. And how surprised I am that I have roots at all, despite the fact that I tend not to rely on people, that I tend to disconnect, that I've moved around so much during my life, even if most of it was within one state.
It's almost potato season for the CSA, and with the potatoes will come cabbage. One of my favorite dishes to make with that combination lately has been Heidi Swanson's White Beans and Cabbage with Shallots, Potatoes, and Parmesan. It's the sort of thing that's perfect for a cool summer night or even an easy lunch, perhaps with a glass of white wine. Like my little potato plant, it's not beautiful, but it's simple, healthful comfort food. I won't reprint the recipe here, but Sierra Madre Vineyards got permission to reprint it on their blog; here is the link to the recipe (and California folks, you can tell me if the wine is any good).
Have you ever tried to coax anything to grow roots? Do you consider yourself a gardener? Have you put down your own roots? How random has that been?