Chitting Your Potatoes: The Ultimate Guide to Growing the Best Spuds

Introduction to Chitting Potatoes

Chitting potatoes is a simple and effective technique for encouraging early sprouting and healthier growth. This process, also known as pre-sprouting, involves placing seed potatoes in a well-lit, cool, and frost-free environment to stimulate the growth of vigorous shoots. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of chitting potatoes, ensuring a bountiful harvest and delicious, home-grown potatoes.

Why Chit Your Potatoes?

Chitting potatoes has several benefits, including:

Faster Growth: Chitting can help seed potatoes produce strong shoots before planting, leading to the quicker establishment in the soil and faster growth.

Higher Yields: Chitting can improve overall potato yield by allowing for a longer growing season and encouraging more robust plant development.

Reduced Disease Risk: By chitting potatoes, you can identify and discard any diseased or rotten seed potatoes before planting, reducing the risk of spreading disease in your garden.

Gardening Shortcut Links

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Choosing the Right Seed Potatoes for Chitting

Selecting high-quality seed potatoes is crucial for a successful chitting process. Consider the following tips when choosing your seed potatoes:

Variety: Choose a potato variety that is well-suited to chitting, such as early-season or mid-season varieties. Late-season varieties may benefit less from chitting.

Size: Look for seed potatoes that are roughly the size of a hen’s egg or larger. Smaller seed potatoes may not have enough energy reserves to produce strong shoots.

Quality: Inspect the seed potatoes for any signs of rot or disease, and avoid those with soft spots or a strong, unpleasant odour.

How to Chit Your Potatoes: Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to chit your potatoes effectively:

Prepare Your Seed Potatoes: Gently rub off any small, weak sprouts from the seed potatoes, leaving only the most vigorous shoots. This will help the plant focus its energy on the most vigorous growth.

Create a Chitting Environment: Find a cool, well-lit, and frost-free area to chit your potatoes, such as a windowsill, unheated greenhouse, or garage. The ideal temperature for chitting is between 45-50°F (7-10°C).

Arrange Your Seed Potatoes: Place the seed potatoes in a single layer in a tray or shallow box, with the “rose end” facing up. The rose end is part of the potato with the most “eyes” or sprouting points. Egg cartons or seed trays with individual compartments can also be used.

Monitor the Chitting Process: Check on your seed potatoes regularly, ensuring they remain dry and free of mold. Chitting can take 4-6 weeks, depending on the variety and temperature.

Plant Your Chitted Potatoes: Once the shoots are approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, they are ready to be planted in your garden.


Planting and Caring for Chitted Potatoes

After chitting your potatoes, follow these guidelines for planting and caring for your spuds:

Planting Time: The ideal time to plant chitted potatoes is 2-4 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area.

Soil Preparation: Prepare the soil by digging a trench 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) deep and adding well-rotted compost or manure. This will provide essential nutrients and improve soil structure for healthy potato growth.

Spacing: Plant your chitted potatoes approximately 12 inches (30 cm) apart within rows, and space rows 24-36 inches (60-90 cm) apart. This spacing allows for optimal growth and makes it easier to hill up the soil around the plants as they develop.

Planting Depth: Place the chitted potatoes in the trench with the shoots facing upwards, and cover with 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) of soil. As the plants grow, gradually mound soil around the base of the stems to prevent sunlight from reaching the developing tubers, which can cause them to turn green and become toxic.

Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as overly wet conditions can lead to rot and disease. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage the development of a robust root system.

Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer at planting time, and then side-dress with additional fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of tuber development.

Pest and Disease Control: Monitor your potato plants for signs of pests, such as aphids or potato beetles, and diseases like blight or scab. Implement organic or chemical control methods to protect your plants and ensure a healthy harvest.

Harvesting Your Chitted Potatoes

Knowing when to harvest your chitted potatoes is crucial for the best flavour and texture. Follow these guidelines for a successful harvest:

Early Season Varieties: Harvest early season potatoes when the plants begin to flower, usually around 10-12 weeks after planting. At this stage, the potatoes will be small but tender and flavorful, perfect for salads or steaming.

Mid-Season Varieties: Harvest mid-season potatoes once the foliage starts to yellow and die back, typically 14-16 weeks after planting. These potatoes have a firmer texture and are suitable for boiling, mashing, or roasting.

Late-Season Varieties: Allow late-season potatoes to mature fully, approximately 18-20 weeks after planting. Harvest when the foliage has completely died back, and leave the potatoes in the ground for an additional two weeks to allow the skins to thicken. This will help with storage and improve their resistance to bruising.

Storage: Store your harvested potatoes in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area, such as a cellar or a garage. Ideal storage temperatures are between 35-40°F (2-4°C). Avoid storing potatoes in areas with high humidity or near fruit, as this can cause them to spoil more quickly.

In conclusion, chitting your potatoes is an effective way to encourage early sprouting, faster growth, and higher yields. By selecting the right seed potatoes, creating the ideal chitting environment, and following best practices for planting and care, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a bountiful harvest of home-grown potatoes.

Seeds and planting
Links and Resources

Recommended Products
(These are some of what I use)

These nursery bags
These Grow bags

Pages Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)

DIY Garden Irrigation System: A Detailed Guide for Northwest Ontario

Blog Posts

When to start planting seeds
Germination testing your seeds
Looking for sources for seeds?
Heirloom seeds
Chitting your way to more potatoes
So it's before the first frost; what can I plant?


Individual seed and plant information is available in the  "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.






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