Choosing to chit potatoes may have its detractors, but we say it can’t hurt to practice this old-fashioned garden ritual.
Chitting potatoes is one of those lovely old-fashioned garden rituals many of us in more frost prone areas love to undertake come late winter.
The word is a sweet old gardening term that basically means you get your tubers to sprout indoors a little while before planting.
Chitting is very simple: take a few egg cartons and pop your seed potatoes in with the most eyes facing up. Place them on a cool windowsill and watch as they sprout before your very eyes.
Some people like to rub off all but the strongest two sprouts in the hope of bigger potatoes while others opt to let all the sprouts run free.
Chit potatoes must be handled carefully when being planted (the sprouts can be vulnerable to breaking off when they’re knocked too hard), and are ready to go into beds when sprouts are at least 2cm long.
While choosing to chit potatoes is not strictly necessary (unchitted potatoes will still sprout and grow when planted), in areas where a late frost might set early planting of potatoes back, chitting tubers before you’re clear of the last of the cold can be a great way to get a head start on your Summer potato crop.
We also think it’s a great and wondrous observational opportunity (especially for little pairs of eyes) to see the vibrant chitted sprouts spurt forth from the dusty skins, a reminder that Spring is just around the corner (and perhaps quite a few batches of potato gnocchi!).
Want to know more about growing potatoes?
The benefits of a freshly dug spud go beyond the incredible flavour; when you grow your own potatoes, you know exactly what type of soil they came from and what they have been exposed to.
By avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides you can eat your po- tatoes, skin and all, knowing that you are getting max- imum nutrition without ingesting any nasty chemicals.
In Issue #14 of Pip, we bring you a comprehensive guide to growing “taters”.
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