This time of year always causes me to reflect back on my early days growing up in Knoxville. Hot weather, walking barefooted through the finely tilled dirt, and hearing the mourning doves, cicadas, and whippoorwills in the distance. Ah... if I could only close my eyes and be transported back to those times. Although, I could probably do without the scolding from my dad.
Twas such a familiar thing for me to hear, my dad hollering at me to get off of my lazy hind-end and get out in the garden to hill the taters (that's potatoes for all of you Appalachianly challenged folks.) When you depended on vegetables out of the garden to keep your family fed, you did everything humanly possible to make sure that your efforts weren't wasted. One of the necessary evils of raising taters, is having to make sure that when they come in, they aren't damaged from sunlight. You see, even though potatoes grow underground, if the roots of the plants are not covered with enough dirt, the potatoes will get sun damaged and turn green. This green is actually an increase in the Glycoalkaloids which creates Solanine, a powerful toxin. If you eat a green potato, chances are you're gonna be trottin' out to the old outhouse soon after. Solanine causes a number of things to happen to you. Mainly, it gives you severe diarrhea! They say that you can die from Solanine poison, although I've never known anybody to croak from eating green taters.
So, getting back to tater hilling... Just in case you don't know what tater hilling is, it's when you take a hoe and pull dirt up around the bottom of the tater plants. You pile it up nice and high so that the roots are covered well. It's a back breaking job, especially when you have an acre garden and nearly half of it is occupied by taters! It was always my job to hill the taters when I was growing up. Lucky me.
I was browsing the Web for articles about tater hilling and I ran across the neatest contraption, it's called the Quadivator™ Hilling Mold Boards (Potato Hiller) Attachment. My gosh, to think of all of the anger and frustration I could have been saved from. Of course, my Papaw's horse, Clyde, probably wouldn't have liked pulling this fancy contraption around the garden.