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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Potato Hole or "Tater" Hole

Well, here is a postscript from yesterdays blog about planting potatoes. I realized I mentioned a "potato hole" and that some of my readers may not have known what it is so here is an explanation.

Now if you are from the north you would probably call it a "potato hole" but in the South it is known as a "tater hole". As I have mentioned before we grew all of our own vegetables and with no electricity we had to be rather ingenious with devising ways to preserve all our food. Most of the food was stored either in the smoke house or in the root cellar but potatoes were a different story.

My Grandfather was a sharecropper so that meant the owner of the land (his sister) got 1/3 of everything that was grown in lieu of rent. That included potatoes and all the crops except the garden. That was pretty high rent back then but that was the agreement they had so mostly he stuck to it except when it came to the potatoes.

When the potatoes were dug in the fall we would sometimes have close to 100 bushel of potatoes. My grandfather always made sure he dug the potatoes when his sister wasn't around because she liked to come to visit to make sure she got her fair share.

There was no way we could put all those potatoes in the root cellar to store them all winter. So we would dig two holes in the end of the garden -- a big hole and a little hole. We would store enough in the root cellar to last us through the winter and then he would put the excess potatoes into the two holes until spring. Two bushel went into the big hole and one bushel went into the smaller hole. Sometimes he made a mistake and three bushel went into the big hole. It really irked him to have to give her part of the potatoes he had worked so hard to have to feed the family. After all the potatoes were in the hole he would cover the hole with burlap sacks or an old piece of tarpolian or oilcloth cover it with dirt and mound it up into a hill. On top of the two hills he would put straw to further insulate it. It is amazing but the potatoes would never freeze even in the coldest winters. We were never allowed to play around the "tater hills". We were told it would rot the potatoes.

In the late winter or early spring when we ran out of potatoes in the cellar we would dig a hole in the side of the hill and get out enough potatoes to last for a few days. If we had extra cabbage or turnips in the fall we would also put those in the hole (the big hole - never the small one) and in the spring we would have a wonderful dinner of boiled cabbage and turnips.

Before we plowed the garden in the spring we would dig up both holes and the rest of the potatoes would go into the root cellar until fall. We always made sure we saved back enough to plant. My grandfather always made sure he informed his sister when he was digging up the potatoes and she was always there to get her share.

This was only one way of preserving our vegetables, other ways were canning, drying, smoking, and pickling. We always had plenty of food to eat. It may not have been fancy but it was always good.

That's it for Today.

1 comment:

Debbie and Rod said...

Ya know, pretty soon nobody is going to believe that I'm a city girl with all this country education I'm getting.

Debbie & Rod