Sarpo Potatoes, Wine Making & LPG Money Saving

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks for a reason – I’ve not had much to say. The cold snap didn’t last long at all, which is a shame as many of the pests like slugs will have survived.

The decent day was spent cutting up pallets and branches for the wood stove. The wood might be free but it takes time preparing it. One tip my neighbour gave me was to get a magnet. Getting all the nails out of pallets is almost impossible so instead I run the magnet over the ashes to get them out before storing the potash rich ash.

Sarpo Potatoes

I’ve been told that all of the trial pack orders have now gone out. When I got us the voucher offer, which has now expired, it went really well. So well in fact that they called me and asked me not to push it as supplies were going down fast.

It’s easy to forget that seed potatoes and indeed any seeds are the product of last year’s growing. If demand rises, it’s not just a matter of the factory working an extra shift.

With seed potatoes the ideal is a tuber about the size of a hen’s egg and we’ve become used to getting them nicely packaged and sorted to the ideal size. There was quite a reaction to the supermarket’s rejection of cosmetically challenged vegetables but you know what? Us gardeners are often just as bad.

We demand the ideal size, no blemishes or damage and woe betide the supplier who gives us less than perfect. If you have a large tuber you can cut it into two halves. So long as both halves have eyes that will develop shoots, they will both grow into good plants.

Potato Challenge

If you fancy a challenge, take a large seed tuber and cut it up into pieces, each with an eye. Plant into some compost in pots and plant out when they’re established. It used to be quite a common competition on allotment sites – who could get the largest crop from three tubers. The judge handed out the tubers to make sure they all started from the same point.

Grandfather reckoned he managed a hundred weight from one tuber, but I suspect a little exaggeration!

Frugal Living

We’ve always watched the pennies which is just as well. Sometimes we’ve had money coming in, sometimes not. Along the way we’ve learned some lessons and shared these in my book Low Cost Living and on the website Low Cost Living

Whilst we’ve had this bad weather, I’ve taken the opportunity to add some things to the site that might be of interest. Having found Grandfather’s wine book, I’ve started putting his recipes online.

He made wines and liqueurs until he was well in his eighties and drank them until he went to the vineyard in the sky in his mid-nineties. The idea of limiting your alcohol intake never really took hold but he did give up smoking when he was 87 as it’s bad for your health!

His wines were legendary, some more drinkable than others but they all had a ‘kick’. This was due to his habit of topping up weak wines with vodka. Not that I recommend that.

Grandfather’s approach was that recipes were a rough guide and scales were for wimps. As far as I know he didn’t own a hydrometer which some books would have you believe is a must for making home wines and beers. I’ve tidied them up and modernised a bit. Things have changed since the 1950’s! Check out the Home Brewing section.

LPG Liquid Petroleum Gas Heating

Our main heating fuel is LPG, which is not cheap. Sometimes I’ve thought it would be cheaper to burn fiver pound notes in the wood burner! Anyway, I spent a wet and windy afternoon on the phone to the suppliers. If you’re on LPG you really need to read this:

Save Money On LPG – How we saved over £1,000 on our gas supply

Let me know what you think.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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