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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buried Potatoes and Other Treasures

I buried my potatoes the other day.  It's really not the same thing as planting potatoes although to some degree the outcomes might be the same.  Let me explain...

There is a Maritime idea, maybe it's a tradition, of piling seaweed on top of your potato patch.  There are as many variations for how this should be done as there are people that do it I'd say.  Some people make a box, fill the box with seaweed only and plant the potatoes in it.  Some people put just a layer of seaweed on top of their potatoes which they plant the "usual" way. Some believe it's very important to rinse the seaweed first to remove the salt. Others don't. I like an idea with so many variations and few rules so I made up my own version.

During the potato "off-season", I have a particular patch of ground where I pile horse manure. It's close to the house in a sunny spot.  I realize this looks like, well.. exactly what it is, but no one around here seems to care.  It freezes in the winter, snow piles on top of it, occasionally we dump the wood fire ashes there. But is affectionately known, all year round as the "potato patch", never the manure pile. Maybe sometimes labels are important?  In the middle of this patch, I reverently planted a very tiny peony a couple of years ago.  It just seemed like there needed to be one there. It continues to thrive and has been joined by a wild rose that just came "from nowhere" much to my delight. The peony is going to blooom for the first time this year I think.  It has been a lesson in patience for sure.

In May, on Mother's Day, we take a trip to the beach and get a huge load of seaweed.  The more the better.  Sometimes it's raining, windy and freezing cold when we do this. Other times it's beautiful, warm and sunny.  This year it was a picture perfect day. This entire load of seaweed then gets dumped and spread (I use the term loosely) on top of the accumulated manure. Then when I feel "inspired" the potatoes are buried underneath the seaweed. 

The thing about this process is you can't be neat, tidy and orderly. At least I can't!  You can't hoe seaweed or make orderly rows.  It just sort of flops all over the place.  This is what makes the planting so much fun.  I just find a spot where I can bury a seed potato and even if I start out with rows, it quickly becomes totally, and completely, random. It feels like burying treasure expect there is no map and I have no idea when I walk out of that patch where the potatoes are. It occurred to me this year that it would be a great activity to do with little kids.  No need for precise spacing, lots of opportunities for discovery and getting dirty, and best of all ,you'll never be able to tell "who's potato's were planted best".  This is totally unlike planting that bean seed with your name written on the cup for all the class to see when your seed doesn't grow so high or you forget to water it.

 I've got all kinds of different types of potatoes in my patch.  I keep some of the ones we like the best and let them go to seed. That's another fun experiment that makes entering the basement a bit of an adventure! When we cut the potato eyes up for planting we had great imaginative stories of what this potato looked like. There were lots and lots of aliens!

Here's the best part. Once you bury those seed potatoes, you just walk away.  There is no weeding to be done.  You can't because you might be walking on a growing potato if you went into the patch! I have never had any issues with bugs. Apparently that's one of the huge benefits of using the seaweed. It seems to keep the bugs away so it's very easy for this whole thing to be totally organic. You just watch them grow and it's so much fun to see where a potato plant may appear next! When it "feels right" to me I dig the potatoes up and enjoy.

It occurs to me that one of the reasons this potato patch is so much fun for me, and it really is just plain fun, is that I really am not attached to the outcome. My ancestors grew potatoes for survival no question about it.  I'm sure they worried about the planting and the growing and the harvesting. Perhaps some of that safety and security in potatoes gene is still within my DNA. I feel connected to my ancestors and my roots when I plant the potaotes and watch them grow.  But I don't have the worry.  If my potatoes don't work out I'll be able to buy them all year long. I can  even pick and choose what type I want. So if I plant a type that isn't that great, or doesn't work out, it's really no big deal.  In my part of the world, potatoes are probably about the cheapest food to buy so I really don't need to rely on my personal crop to survive the winter.  It's very satisfying if it all works out but fun to do even if it doesn't. Hmm...

But I got thinking about the seaweed.  I turned to Sabina Pettitt's book, "Energy Medicine Healing from the Kingdom of Nature".  Unlike most plant medicine and essence lines, Pettitt includes Sea Essences in her line of Pacific Essences .  Her book explains the energy and healing powers behind the plants and why they might be helpful to you and includes a picture of each plant. It turns out, in my potato patch seaweed, I have the following: Brown Kelp, Rainbow Kelp, Stagborn Algae, Pink Seaweed, and Surfgrass. Or at least I have Atlantic versions of those Pacific ocean plants.

Brown Kelp provides clarity according to Pettitt.  It's helpful when you need to step back and release the confusion.  Life will be easier with more time and energy for fulfillment.  That's true. I don't need to spend time weeding or tending to that garden. I can just step back without worry.

Pettitt writes that Rainbow Kelp provides alchemcial transformation. It provides a connection to our higher perception, and balances the brain to release, relax and reconnect with the light.  Seems like there might be a connection to the Vagus nerve associated with Rainbow Kelp. A lot of magical transformation happens in my potato patch, of that I am sure.

Once it's all dried up and mixed in, it's kind of hard to distinguish, but I'm pretty sure I have Stagborn Algae in my potato seaweed.  Pettitt writes it "provides inner security and a sense of self amidst turbulence and confusion".  I like that idea in, what feels like, intense times and a rapidly shifting world.

There was definitely Pink Seaweed in the potato patch.  It seems to have faded a bit now but when it rains it really stands out and adds a definite color. In Energy Medicine, Pettitt explains Pink Seaweed is a grounding remedy. It helps in enabling you to "accept yourself and give yourself time and space to manifest your full potential".  It can help provide patience for new beginnings.  Perhaps that's why it's started to fade now. It's done it's magic and is providing space for the new growth.

There is lots of Surfgrass in the seaweed.  Pettitt writes this plant holds the energy of "courage, strength and power rooted in stability and flexibility". So maybe that's why there aren't a lot of rules in how you use the seaweed.  It's about finding your own stability and strength by allowing flexibility to emerge.

No wonder the potato patch feels so good!  There is a lot of nature's positive energy in there. It seems to be all about allowing for the transformation to occur. And in that process I find a lot of safety and security. My potatoes are virtually buried in a host of nature's treasures.

Enjoy the growth!

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