This Spuds for You

May is planting season around here, the month usually starting by ensuring the root veggies are in the ground and ending by poking hundreds of more delicate seeds into the soil.

The weather cooperated long enough for me to till the recently-thawed layer of topsoil in the corner of my yard which I keep open for an annual vegetable garden.

… and then to plant a small bag of seed potatoes, neatly covered up with dirt and marked with a makeshift stake in the ground nearby.

A local gardening guru was recently a guest on the CBC morning radio show and he was discussing a strange topic to which the answer was, in fact, potatoes.

As it turns out there is a strong community of home gardeners who think deeply about things like caloric yield and nutritional output per square meter of soil. In the event of an “end of the world” type scenario, maximizing how much food one can grow in a small plot of land is something that enough folks have given enough thought to that aforementioned guru used it as the topic of his weekly radio segment.

His calculations showed potatoes were the winner, being both one of the most reliable and highly producing plant that can occupy your backyard in the event of cataclysmic events of the kind that wipe out the global supply chain, but leave you enough time to become a backyard subsistence farmer.

A similar calculation played out in the science fiction novel (and later film) The Martian where explorer astronaut Mark Watney finds himself left behind and stranded on Mars after a mission failure and hasty evacuation, and needs to use his botany skills to stay alive long enough for a rescue attempt some months (or years?) away. The science-driven narrative turns to the humble spud, the only fresh food sent along on the space voyage and intended as a happy holiday dinner on another planet, as the means by which meticulously calculated cultivation keeps the astronaut alive long enough for the plot to proceed.

I planted nine hills of potatoes yesterday which by late summer should yield enough tubers for a couple plates of fries and a few roasted dishes alongside maybe a campfire steak or two.

And ideally that’s all I’ll need them for.


One of my favourite films stars Bill Murray as a weatherman who, while visiting a small town to report on the festivities taking place to celebrate groundhog day finds himself trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of reliving the same day over and over and over again. He wakes up on the second of February countless times, makes his way through the day working out the various consequences of his small choices, and no matter how that version of the day ends he wakes up once more on the same day to restart exactly where he began.

Groundhog Day, the day, has long been a kind of pseudoscientific celebration where we turn to nature (in the form of a large rodent’s reaction to it’s shadow) as a prediction of the remaining duration of winter weather.

Thanks to the film, Groundhog Day has become shorthand for being stuck in a time loop and being forced to relive what is seemingly the same day over and over and over again as if the universe is testing one’s resolve to find a way to escape and that escape can only come at the cost of self-actualization and some kind of genuine epiphany of the soul.

One word that sums up your
theme for 2021.

grownd - hahg

A groundhog, also known around the world as a woodchuck, is a large rodent who obliviously predicts each year with stunning fifty-fifty accuracy the fate of spring at the hands of fading winter.

I don’t yet know if 2022 will lead to an escape from the endless cycle of seemingly living the same day over and over and over again, but throughout the last three hundred and sixty-odd day, saying that it feels like groundhog day has become our go-to tongue-in-cheek analysis and recurring theme of our feelings of 2021.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.