Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chitting Potatoes

With rain in the foreseeable forecast O Wise one and I are working towards getting the peas and potatoes planted before the rain arrives because we know that it will be 4 to 5 days after a good rain before we can get back in the garden. Mother nature smiled on us with temperatures in the high sixties but unfortunately there were 40 mile an hour wind gusts to contend with. The potatoes are chitted and waiting by the back door ready to go in the ground. The hay mulch which we are experimenting growing some of our potatoes in is picked up out of the chicken yard and in the wagon ready to go over the newly planted spuds. We are using our own seed potatoes from last year. Just one less seed to buy. 

As  you can see the potatoes are already chitted. Chitting is the process of allowing seed potatoes to sprout before planting. Chitting potatoes is not essential to producing a potato crop but can help to encourage an earlier crop. 

Another reason we like to chit or pre-sprout is that we get no gaps in our rows. Notice that the above potato rows are solid there are no gaps where potatoes did not come up. There is no going back and filling in the blank spots etc. We plant once and that is it!  

We also take off all sprouts but the largest and healthier two in an effort to have two strong healthy shoots  instead of 6 smaller shoots. We think we get larger and healthier plants that way and also bigger potatoes. 

To chit seed potatoes we place them "rosy end" ( the end where tiny buds can be seen) up in a tray or egg carton and expose them to light in a cool place or 4 to 6 weeks allowing the chits to develop. By putting them in a well lit place the shoots will remain short, light green and compact. When time to plant we remove all but two sprouts. Left in the dark they develop long white brittle shoots which you don't want because they can easily be broken off when planting. 

We actually sprouted ours on the bottom tray of our seeding rack which has not been needed for seeds yet. Left on the tray with the light off they still received indirect light from the two seed shelves above, the overhead fluorescent room light, and the large window in the back door. In about 6 weeks we now have sprouts.  

The larger potatoes are still cut into smaller pieces removing all but the two largest and strongest sprouts. They are easily just rubbed off with your thumb. You want large purple and green stocky sprouts. 

Anything smaller than a golf ball is planted whole. Chitting our potatoes helps us to make sure that all of the seed potatoes we plant are already sprouted eliminating gaps in the rows where they may not come up and helping us to produce larger and healthier potatoes. Sometimes even earlier than we expect them.

Anyone else out there still chit their potatoes?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. I had not heard of chitting. It looks like something I might like to try.
    Thanks for sharing this method with us, CQ! :-)

  2. I haven't heard of it either--and my parents grew potatoes forever! Well, they probably knew about it but never mentioned it to us? I got my potatoes in about a week ago--earliest for me ever but I'm sooo glad! I'm wondering if we've had our last bout of winter now? (we had a sleet storm the other night--KS) Pretty early...

    1. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to do and usually seed potatoes are not available commercially that early. But if we use our own seed potatoes then there is nothing to stop us from sprouting them early. We also had rain, sleet and snow the night after I planted my garden. Luckily everything was underground.

  3. I had not heard of the term chitting until now. My parents always called it sprouting and let the "eyes" get big before cutting and planting. They would try to leave an eye on each of the potato pieces they cut (usually halved) and then would plant them.


Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please. Also I am not a free advertisement board if you want to push a product on my comments I will delete you fast !!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails