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Forget Wall Street: Invest in Potatoes

(Caution: Image Heavy) We all know what’s happened to the stock market over the past year. No news there. A whole lot of people lost a whole lot of their retirement and goodness knows what else over the past year. A whole lot of people are going to have to work long past their ‘sell by’ dates just to get through.

What Aunt Toby is here to tell you is that there are other ‘investments’ that sometimes do a whole lot better than fancy financial instruments, ‘regular’ and ‘preferred’ and Class A, B or C.

I’m talking about…potatoes (and yes, I realize that there has been a whole lot of coverage about this ‘early blight’ stuff that is basically turning tomatoes into the vegetable equivalent of cavier this summer – and is the same thing that killed a million Irish through starvation between 1845 and 1852 – and brought another million to our shores in the same time). And we have had a summer the likes of which I do not care to discuss (needless to say that if there are any leather shoes underneath Aunt Toby’s bed – they have already sprouted some rather exotic molds because it’s been one rainy summer Chez Siberia.

But remember these?

I’ve been watching that bed for a while because once potatoes flower, it’s time to keep a watch for the plants dying back. That means (drum roll, please) that it is time to dig them up.

I love digging up potatoes. It’s like Treasure Island and we are the pirate crew. The other part is that no matter how clever we think we are about getting every last one, we always miss a few. These turn into volunteers and usually, since they have had a head start from the fall before, we get even bigger ‘taters’ the next year. A nice surprise.

So, let’s review: In early March, I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show and I bought a little bag of seed potatoes – there were three little potatoes in that bag that weighed 8 ounces. A half a pound of potatoes that I cut into basically thirds (so that each one had a couple of eyes). The amount of ground that I used to plant them was a piece of a bed that was about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. Frankly, those potatoes were not the only occupants – I had some basil plants hidden in there as well. Recently, the plants just seemed to give up the ghost.

And yesterday I dug them up. Frankly, I was expecting, between the rain and the whole ‘OMG – it’s the blight..the blight” thing, a slimy unedible mess that I’d have to dig the entire bed up and throw everything – potatoes, slime, dirt, rocks everything, away. Blight is a bacterial infection so I’d have to do that. But no – the bed (which the DH has worked assiduously for years, digging it out by hand, with a pick and shovel, de-rocking it, putting in manure and leaves and compost every year, was great – the dirt had drained well and the potatoes were just…lovely.

So, I dug them all out and I washed all the dirt off them and weighed them, just to see how much we’d gotten out of those three little potatoes..that 8 ounces had turned through the magic of being buried in the ground, given room, warmth, and rain, into…14 pounds.


You do the math:
14 pounds x 16 ounces to the pound = 224 ounces
224 ounces / 8 ounces is 28 — 28 times the investment

Let’s see now – if we invested a $1.00 today and 5 months later, we received $28.00 back, that would be SOME investment, huh? The difference between investing money and seed potatoes is that with a money investment, you can lose your whole investment. The chances of losing all of your potatoes are pretty small (small potatoes? Nah…).

So, now we have 14 pounds of potatoes. Actually, we have a good bit less because they are soooo good that we have already eaten some. And some are really too small to eat. So, I’m going to invest them again – I’ll put those back in the ground for next year.

Worth the risk.

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  1. fuzzarelly says:

    Yay, you! And the potatoes, of course.

  2. Lindsay T says:

    I love potatoes, especially Maine potatoes that come from Aroostook County where my mom and dad grew up.

  3. Linda says:

    Lindsay T….
    My grandmother was from that area, and she always talked about those being the best potatoes in the world 🙂
    It’s such a coincidence to see this after having just spent the day today focusing on genealogy.
    I’d bet there’s French Canadian around if not in your family. 🙂

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