I came across this odd potato while digging the last row of the early crop of potatoes. The spud in question was mottled brown and yellow; its skin seemed rather tough.
I grubbed around with my hand and pulled up the prize. He regarded me with a grumpy red eye.
This eastern box turtle had dug himself down into the mulch that I hill up around potato plants. He was a good six inches down, where the soil is still somewhat moist and cool. All this happened several days ago. I replaced him, carefully covered him again with soil, and marked the spot so that I would not spear him with my garden fork. He’s still there: when I wiggle my fingers down I can touch his shell.
The technical name for this kind of summertime dormancy is estivation (aestivation in the Old World). The turtle is conserving water, saving energy, and waiting out this interminable heat. Which animal is smarter: the one snoozing in the shady soil or the one toiling to earn his potatoes with the sweat of his brow? I have my opinion on this; I’ll let you form your own.
The potato plant that he cuddled up to yielded the biggest load of spuds that I’ve even seen from a single plant (boastful evidence below). So, this fellow either brought good vibes with him or he has a taste for moisture that led him to the most productive spot in the garden. Both, perhaps.