Time to Chit This Year’s Potatoes

Yey! After a long, long wait it’s time to start chitting Potatoes. The garden centres and seed merchants are selling or delivering seed potatoes as from now so why not get stuck in and start yours off. I headed to the garden centre last weekend to buy mine. I went for Winston (First Earlies or New Potatoes to you and I) because the label said they had good blight resistance. 

I didn’t have any trouble with blight on my Potatoes last year but (as with everyone’s) my Tomatoes were ruined by blight and so I’m taking no chances this year. I’ll be opting for resistant varieties of everything capable of catching even the slightest bit of blight.

I’ve put my seed potatoes under the window in the potting shed – that way they are out of way of frost but have lots of light to enable then to grow nice, short, green sprouts. Make sure to look for the biggest eye and face that one towards the light. What you’re looking for is one healthy, big shoot, the rest can be rubbed off with your finger.

Good luck, chitters!

23 Comments on “Time to Chit This Year’s Potatoes

  1. I put my potatoes to chit yesterday. I’ve always put them in old egg boxes for some reason. I ordered Cosmos, which are second earlies, from the Organic Gardening catalogue. According to the blurb they are also resistance to blight as well as common scab.

  2. Advice is spot on for first earlies but as the RHS say

    Second early and maincrop potatoes also benefit from chitting but they don’t need thinning of sprouts.

  3. I keep the sprouts shorter than 1 cm or else they’ll break off too easily later when they’re put in the ground.

  4. My horticulture teacher told me last week that if you leave all the sprouts (bruts?) on, you’ll get more potatoes but they’ll be smaller. Leave about 3 on and you’ll get bigger potatoes as a result of more energy going into less potatoes.

  5. My 16-year-old daughter and I are beginning to plan out our spring/summer garden and I found your site today. I love it and am combing through the archives. Even though we are continents apart, we have the same drive to make it sustainable and organic inasmuch as possible. We live on more than an acre, but we live in the Mojave Desert (California) where gardening any plot larger than a postage stamp is a monumental challenge. We plan on utilizing the Square Foot gardening technique- with flowers, of course!

  6. Hi MTP’s Head Gardener!

    We are chitting potatoes for the first time and would love some advice: We have some Red Duke of York potatoes that came with long shoots from the pack (did not look carefully enough when buying . . . ), some of the shoots are just about 2cm long: Should we remove them and wait for more shoots or let them be and wait?

    We are just wondering (especially after reading Thomas’ note above) . . . Any advice would be most welcomed!

    We love your blog (especially the monthly task lists)!

    All the very best from Kent,

    Fabio & Sharon

  7. My first earlies were put into eggboxes (like Karin) in front of the kitchen window last weekend. Lots of lovely little sprouts are beginning to appear and I shall be removing all but 3 or 4 on each.
    I absolutely love MTP and you’ve helped so much with my struggles on my new (to me) allotment in the past year. Many a time I have logged on to find a cheering picture or good advice or something to make me smile. Thanks.

  8. Hi Fabio,
    Are your sprouts short green ones or long yellow ones?
    If they’re green I would leave them but just be extra careful when planting them. If they’re yellow – hmm maybe throw them out and start again? I’ve never tried re-chitting potatoes. Anyone else had experience with that?

  9. My first earlies (*called Dolwen) are already chitting well and I’m off to the garden centre tomorrow to get some maincrops. Potato buying is a bit hit and miss for me as there are only a few varieties I recognise and trying to work out the best french varitey for me from the info the give (which is invariable hanging too high up to read clearly) makes it all a bit of guesswork. Last year I grew Desiree, Charlotte, Ratte and Bintje. This year I’ll do Desiree again but as for the others – who knows?!

  10. Hello Again Head Gardener!

    Had a good long look at the sprouts and although they are not completly yellow they are neither completly green so we decided to keep them as a trial and, just in case, get a new batch of healthy Red Duke of York to start again with, as you suggest.
    See what happens!

  11. Hi,love reading your blog,your place is sooo different to mine!I wish however that I hadnt clicked on “shop”I have the dvd The victorian kitchen garden,but I didnt know there were MORE!!Tales from green valley,victorian farm,etc etc.I am know franticly searching where to purchase these in Australia !!!! Thanks..I think!!! :0)

  12. Is it too early to start preparing the vegetable beds? I was going to dig some manure (bought at the garden centre) into my two raised beds given over to potatoes this year. I’m doing one early crop and one main crop. Thought I should plant about mid March. What do you think?

  13. First earlies and sometimes second earlies often miss getting potato blight which tends to appear later in the summer after you’ve harvested the crop so blight resistance is more important for main crop varieties which you leave in the ground longer and harvest later. Let’s hope we have a drier warmer summer this year and less blight.

  14. I really like the composition of your photos. Cool. I also write about gardening on my blog & on Examiner.com. I found you through StumbleUpon in case you want to know. Enjoy chitting your potatoes. I bought some the other day too.~~Dee

  15. @Wayne Stratz: Fingerlings, is that the same as Asparagus?

    @Julie: Digging manure and compost into your raised beds in the winter is fine. Then you’ll help the worms survive and they’ll help you by improving your soil.

  16. Hi. I would like to know how many people ever plant leftover potatoes from the previous year. Everything I’ve read says not to, though I not had any problems the few times I’ve done it and My mother, in the US, has done it for over 20 years without trouble. Of course, she doesn’t have to worry about blight, and I’ve had no problems in my 5 years on my allotment, though one other nearby did. I would also like to know if anyone has “re-chitted.”

    Thomas W: From shopping at Coscos with Mom, Fingerlings seem to be the American name for the “Pink Fir Apple” type potato. From what I can tell, American shops do not use the actually use the potato names/breeds. So Harlequin and Anya would also be fingerlings.

    For helping potatoes, lining your trenches or otherwise using comfrey leaves is meant to be an excellent method.

  17. I am going to try growing potatoes that have gone past sell by date
    I am going to put them in an old grow bag with compost and see what happens…anybody else tried this.

  18. Hi Vic,
    Yes, I’ve planted potatoes in the garden that have been in my veg box and have grown roots. When they’re in the garden, some of them tend to go green and because I wasn’t expecting them (forgot where I put them!) I dug them up a bit early so they were very small – nice tasting though.

    Mostly, they go in the compost heap and then later in the summer we have a lovely crop of really tasty potatoes.

    I’ve never tried actually buying seed potatoes so don’t know whether you’d get a better crop doing it that way.

  19. Time to start chit the potatoes yes its been a long wait and the keep the sprouts short is just an awesome idea. Good post.

  20. I grow a lot of potatoes in my garden and different varieties but never cared to chit them. Now I guess its time to try some on a holiday or a weekend. Best Post and very helpful.