Time to sow the potatoes, I reckon. You’re not supposed to sow them until the frost is gone but here in Dublin, you just can’t tell – it’s been roasting hot one day and freezing cold the next… Climate change messing with my dinner.
But you know, there’s a real art to growing potatoes – and the real artists are out there on Inis Oírr (one of the Aran Islands). They must be well on the way at this stage – the lazy beds dug, the sand and the seaweed mixed in, the lovely green shoots pushing out of the light brown soil, bursting to greet the summer.
I was really taken with the potato patches when I was over there, on an artist’s residency in Áras Éanna, some years ago. I’ve been growing my own fataí ever since.
But there’s an old Irish saying – Fataí a chuirtear i mí Bealtaine, nó nuair a bhíonns an chuach ag canadh, beidh siad mall – and that worries me (a bit). It means that potatoes that are planted in May, or while the cuckoo is calling, will be late!
Oh spuds, and recently I came across a description in the National Folklore Collection of UCD (dúchas.ie), a description of how they used to grow potatoes in the 1930s, in Fearann an Choirce on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.
This tells us that they put out red seaweed in November and then, they put out black seaweed in March – when they were planting the seed potatoes!
Well, times have changed and we’ve only ourselves to blame. Come back to me in August and I’ll let you know how it all went.
Slán go fóill,