About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Potato audit (and notes on peas and carrots)

I stored our potatoes in sacks in the store room and they've kept reasonably well, except that the King Edwards started sprouting in mid November, and the Desiree about six weeks later. I kept using them and just snapping off the shoots before cleaning them, but there comes a point when all the potato's reserves have gone into the shoots, and there's not much left in the tuber. A few days ago I decided that it was time to see what I have left.

The Desiree were in pretty good shape, though most had one or two short, fat shoots. Since I've found very little blight damage, I've decided these will be OK to use as seeds, so I picked out 36 medium spuds for planting, leaving half a dozen large ones that'll be good for baking, and a few small ones that I confess I couldn't be bothered with, so they've gone on the compost heap, where they'll no doubt turn into small plants to annoy me later in the year.

The King Edwards, on the other hand...

Sprouting King Edwards

There seem to be an awful lot of these, which should make me happy, but as they're all rather small and fiddly, and in urgent need of using up, it doesn't. They've been sitting in the kitchen for about a week, which probably doesn't help with the sprouting. This morning I was trying to avoid a less appealing task, so I picked out a heap of them to make into chips. One tray is currently freezing and another is waiting its turn for freezer space.

Somewhere along the line I must have got my calculations wrong. I thought I'd harvested a year's supply of spuds, but all I have left is about six pounds of chips and roughly the same again in the sack (including shoots). By my previous estimate of using two pounds per week, that's enough to see us through to late March, even assuming they last that long. I guess we must eat a lot more potatoes than I thought, or perhaps when we have sacks of spuds in the store room we eat more of them than I thought. But then, if I had planted a lot more, right now I'd be facing even more soft, sprouting tubers.

I think the answer is that we can eat lots of spuds from mid summer through to the end of winter, but only what I've frozen in spring and early summer. That would be the period known as the hungry gap. I'm very glad I have a freezer! Of course, I could always give in and actually buy some. We ran out of frozen peas in mid January, and carrots not long after that, so I've bought both of those recently. There may still be carrots in the ground, but they're increasingly slug-eaten, difficult to find now the tops have died off, difficult to get out of the frozen ground once I've found them, and on top of all that, I still have to cut away the carrot-fly damage. I've pretty much given up getting carrots from the garden.

In the meantime, when I was in town recently I noticed that Charlie's were selling seed potatoes from the same grower that I bought from online last year, so to add to the saved Desiree, I bought a bag each of Foremost, which I grew last year, and Red Duke of York, both first earlies.

Some potatoes have done more chitting than others.

So the year comes full circle.


  1. Storing some apples together with your spuds will prevent them from sprouting. (They're emitting ethylene-gas, which suppresses sprouting)
    I learnt that from Jihyun Ryou, a corean designer, who has a website on such traditional knowledge adaption : http://www.savefoodfromthefridge.com/


  2. Thanks for the tip, I'll have to try that next year :-)

    That's a beautiful website, but someone should tell him he's got his eggs upside down.


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