How to Chit Potatoes
It sounds difficult, doesn’t it? Like a big mystery. Like so many other things related to gardening, eh? Well, it’s not difficult at all. The most difficult part is researching how to do it, because if you look at ten websites, you will find ten ways of doing it. Here’s what I took from that: it’s hard to go wrong, just pick a way and do it.
1. Find a cool place with indirect light.
2. Place your potatoes in an egg carton, bed of straw, or anything that will hold them upright. You want the end with the most eyes to be upward (the “rose” end).
3. Once the sprouts come out, rub off all but two to four of them with your fingers. This way the tuber’s energy goes into making just a few sprouts, which makes them stronger.
4. Some say the potatoes have chitted once they sprout, other say the sprouts should be up to 2 in (5 cm) long. So essentially, just plant them when the growing conditions are right: anywhere between March and May, depending on your climate (ie, after the last frost).
Dividing The Eyes
You can also divide the eyes to form several plants from one potato. The general belief is that the smaller the potato you plant, the smaller the potatoes you harvest. Since I’m planting small fingerlings, I decided to cut many of them in half (but no smaller). I made sure that there was at least one eye – and preferably several – on each half.
When you place the cut potatoes in the carton, make sure you place them in a clean place, so that the potato can callous without becoming diseased. The cut ends of a potato excrete subarin, a natural fungicide (according to this site). But you can also dip the ends into dry wood ash or lime if you’re worried about it.
It gives your potatoes a head start once they’re in the ground. By that same token, if you’ve planted cover crops, you can keep them in the soil a bit longer while the potatoes are chitting. Plus many people swear that their yields are heavier with chitted potatoes.
Note: potatoes are a great new crop to grow from seed to seed! Stay tuned for How To Grow Potatoes Part 2.
Do You Chit?