Lazy beds · Vegetable growing

Potato storage and preserving

Now because of timings in creating our lazy beds we ended up planting all of our potatoes at the same time. We had six varieties: red duke of York (first earlies), Charlotte (second earlies), Maris Peer (second earlies), Maris Piper (early maincrop), Purple Majesty (maincrop) and King Edward (large maincrop). Now the theory is that they should be ready in sequence, which they haven’t all been, and even if they do spread themselves out a bit more, we had 1kg of seed potatoes of each variety so we’re going to end up with a lot of potatoes. An awful lot. We started pulling them up the other week but to be honest we didn’t really think it through and just started pulling up those where the foliage was dying back. We did stop but not before we had a vast haul. My wonderful husband then proceeded to help out (as good husband always do) and started cleaning them ready for use. 

It wasn’t until later when I did a bit of reading about homegrown potatoes that I realised we probably hadn’t done the right thing with our harvest if we were wanting a good storage period. The best thing to do is to pull up the plant and harvest any potatoes that are attached. 

Then ensure any potatoes still in the ground are still well covered with soil and leave for a couple of weeks for the skins to set. This will make them firmer and better able to withstand storage. Instead, some people, will harvest and let them dry out in the sun. I’ve opted to leave them in the ground. 

Now you can, in theory, harvest just what is needed when it’s needed. Or, if you are concerned about possible pest damage, then harvest and store in a dark, cool place. Most people opt for brown paper bags or hessian sacks for this purpose. Then only wash when you are ready to use. 

When it comes to preserving potatoes then the freezer is your best friend. Potatoes can’t be frozen raw so they need to be processed in some way first. I’m a big fan of my freezer and tend to do lots of batch cooking for my freezer. So far with our first harvest of potatoes I have done some roast potatoes: parboiled and tossed in flour and lard, then open frozen before bagging, they can then be popped straight into the oven from frozen to crisp up. They make delicious roasties and it’s easy to just take out the number you need. 

We’ve also tried doing a potato bake: sliced potato and onion in layers in a dish, then covered in stock (I prefer chicken stock for the taste), season (I use salt, pepper and a little thyme from the garden) then bake until the potatoes are cooked (about 40 minutes). We used purple majesty potatoes for this and have frozen in the dish and covered with foil. When we’re going to use it we will take it out the day before use (or on the day, but then it will take longer to cook) and cover with a sprinkling of cheese and bake for 15 mins. It doesn’t look particularly appetising now, but I promise it is delicious and fairly healthy (without the cheese). 

I also love to do a few baked potatoes in the oven when I have space then they can be frozen in foil and either defrosted in the microwave (remove the foil) or the oven relatively quickly for a proper baked potato taste in a rush. What does anyone else do to use up potatoes? I need some more inspiring ideas. 


Wool storage

So I have one storage unit in the cabin exclusively for wool and yarn related bits and bobs. The top six cubbyholes are just wool, sorted by colour and I’ve tried to stack them as best as possible so that I can clearly see what I have and what I don’t. The bottom right cubbyhole has a couple of bags with all their materials needed in them and the left hand cubbyhole has my knitting bag. I need to find some way to nicely store and display my knitting needles. Most of my needles are what are known as circular needles, which are basically two wooden needles joined by a plastic loop, but I do still own some traditional bamboo and metal needles. I have made a simple needle case before but it really isn’t substantial enough to hold all my needles, and I would like some kind of easy way to have all of them neatly stored and yet clear to see the different gauges rather than having to root around amongst all of them. One of the things that I’ve found very frustrating about moving into the cottage was that all of my craft bits were boxed up and stowed away in various places. 

I figure I can have my traditional needles in vase of kinds on top of the shelves. But that still leaves the dilemma of my circular needles so I think I’ll have to take to Pinterest to find some inspiration. Also looking at all my yarn together I feel like I need to expand my collection somewhat. Both C and J have quite sensitive skin so I tend to avoid using high wool content in my makes and instead go for more delicate or artificial fibres. My collection has lots of bits and pieces of yarn left over from projects but I could do with some really nice yarn for myself in there. Something which feels lovely and soft and I can use to make a cardigan for myself to snuggle in when it comes to winter. I feel a big shop coming on!


Planning the cabin layout

So the purpose of the cabin is to give me a space where I can store all my craft things in and also somewhere for me to have some ‘me time’. I had some ideas about how I wanted to set things out but I didn’t feel that I could purchase any furniture until I could actually stand in it and properly measure and sort the layout. My requirements furniture-wise have been simple. I need somewhere to cut material, somewhere to iron, somewhere for my sewing machine to be used. I also want a comfy chair to sit in with space nearby for my kettle and cups. Oh and storage. Lots of storage. I had quite liked the idea of having an island in the middle for my ironing and cutting with built in storage and then just a bench down the side for my sewing machine. But when I actually stood in there I thought an island would dominate too much, leave little moving room around the sides and not enough storage. So that idea was out. I spent a good evening measuring the walls, window length and height from the floor before taking to the internet to find furniture that would fit. 

I’ve now opted for three desks forming an L shape across the front down one side and some shelves continuing down that side and along the back. Both of these were from IKEA in white and the desks have adjustable legs so they can be raised in line with the windows. I’ve started constructing the furniture this week (with some assistance from J) and like all IKEA furniture it is simple to put together and of a reliable quality. The shelves are cube shelves enabling me to have some sense of organising and separating of products. Nothing in them yet, and I haven’t finished the last two desks yet but hopefully you can start to get a feel for how it will be.

Ignore the weird painting at the bottom of the walls, skirting board still to be attached!

I’ve ordered my chair from John Lewis but it will be 8 more weeks until delivery so I’m going to have to wait a while before that’s in place and I can get a coffee table to fit with it. I’ve also ordered myself a rug which will be in the centre of the ‘work area’.  I’m hoping that the white walls, ceiling, furniture and floor with the pops of colour from the chair, rug and materials will work and create a light and calm working environment. I still need to get some lamps and some other bits and bobs but at least this weekend I can start filling shelves.