It’s time for all the chit jokes!
Let me explain. OK, simply speaking, chitting is the gardening term for sprouting potatoes. It gives them a little head start for when you do plant them.
Seed potato is also a bit of a misnomer as it is not a seed, it is just a potato. And to further complicate matters, potatoes do actually produce seeds! The berries, following flowering, look like small unripe tomatoes, however THEY ARE POISONOUS – DO NOT EAT THEM.
Back to the seed potatoes. In reality, they are only potatoes which have been saved from last years crop. They are kept in controlled conditions so they remain dormant. Then, they can be planted the following year for a new crop.
Mine arrived this morning, it’s very exciting!
These are a variety called Vivaldi, you might have seen them hailed as a low carbers dream potato due to their lower carbohydrate content than other varieties. They are classed as “second early”. They can be planted at the same time as any other potato, but they are the second earliest to mature, in about 12-14 weeks after planting. First earlies can mature as early as 10 weeks after planting.
If you have read my earlier post about choosing potatoes, you might have received them already. Don’t worry if you have not chosen, you have plenty of time yet. Here is where I purchased mine. Once you receive them, remove them from the packaging immediately and move on to the next step below.
Let’s talk chit
Sorry, another chit joke!
This is really simple. All you need is something like old egg cartons or a tray lined with newspaper. Place your potatoes “eyes up” like this:
The eyes are the little bumps where the sprouts will grow from. Place the potatoes somewhere bright at cool, I have mine in a spare bedroom. A windowsill or cool porch are ideal. Give the potatoes a quick check over and make sure they all look healthy.
Don’t forget to label them with the variety and date received!
The sprouts will start to emerge slowly, and healthy ones will be about 1/2 to 1 inch long (1.25 to 2.5cm) long and be a deep purple and green.
For reasons I may explain another time, I have no windowsills in my house. Therefore, I have placed the potatoes on top of a propagator (for now) as near to the window as I can.
I check on mine every few days or so and then to make sure that they are ok. I like to ensure that none show signs of going bad, and to turn the box round occasionally so they get even sunlight. Any which start to smell bad, or look like they have rotted must be thrown away, they will only spread disease.
I’ve done the chit, what next?
The next question is, when can we plant them? Some people follow a tradition where they are planted on Good Friday. There is a problem with this, Good Friday can be anywhere from late March to late April.
Some, like me, will plant them about 4 weeks before the last predicted frost date. This great website can tell you when this is in your area (UK and USA only).
I will guide you through the next step when we get closer to planting time. In the meantime, get choosing, buying and chitting!