Chitting Potatoes

No, this isn’t a recipe post, nor is it a description of a painful-sounding bodily function!  Chitting potatoes simply means sprouting them prior to planting.  It’s a term best pronounced (I think) with a crisp British accent and is just the type of arcane gardening technique that I relish, geek that I am!

In early March, just after the seed potatoes arrived at the garden centre, local garden expert Steve Whysall published a timely post about chitting potatoes from which I gleaned an excellent tip.  He suggests that egg cartons make a great potato chitting rack – and he’s right!  I’m stealing that one…

Satina potatoes ready for chitting

Satina potatoes ready for chitting

The varieties I’m growing this year are:

Satina – My favourite in recent years, a high yielding, scab-resistant yellow spud, and

Innovator – a newish russet type potato (because I like to try new stuff).

I cut some of the larger spuds and placed each in its own egg-cup, eyes up.  They’ve been sitting on the laundry room window ledge slowly growing sturdy green sprouts, looking like dirty, lumpy hen-fruit.

chitting potatoes

The perfect rack for chitting potatoes

A month later and it’s time to plant.  The weather is warming (marginally) and I’m itching to get some plants in the ground.  Turning the soil in this years’ potato bed I note how soft and friable the ground is after three years of cultivation and care – a far cry from the cement-like soil here originally.  I can easily plunge my spade into the ground using just one hand!

Sprouted potatoes, ready to plant

Sprouted potatoes, ready to plant

Two long trenches will serve as “rows” for the seed potatoes.  I plant the little chits about 16” apart and stagger them to provide optimum tuber formation space.  Each french fry factory is just covered with soil for now; I will add soil as the sprouts push through until the trenches are full, then commence to hilling.  The reason for this is that no spuds will form below the seed potato, so you want that baby to end up deeply buried to get a big crop of scalloped, mashed or baked carbs.chitting potatoes

This evening I sat down to write this post, pleasantly tired from a day of working in the yard and happy to have done some actual planting.  While doing a bit of quick research on chitting potatoes I find this very informative page that informs me that I’VE DONE IT WRONG!!!  Well, sort of…chitting potatoes

Don’t disregard everything I’ve said, but this page about chitting potatoes goes into much more detail and it seems to come from a very experienced gardener.  It’s not really that I’ve done it wrong – more like I could have done it better.  Oh well, I will repeat the gardeners mantra; there’s always next year!

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About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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5 Responses to Chitting Potatoes

  1. barb19 says:

    Thanks for the link to that Interesting site, and even though it’s an English site, it will be very helpful to me. I will have to adapt the instructions for a warm climate.
    I will be interested to know how your seed potatoes grow.

  2. Ruth says:

    I have yet to try growing potatoes. As you say – ‘There is always next year’

  3. Next year I’m going to (try to) grow potatoes in potato bins. I found this post really useful re chitting :) I was going to fill the bins up, but I see from your planting in trenches that I may have to fill each bin only half full as if it was a trench. hmmm ponderous!

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