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How To Grow Potatoes: From Chit To Chit – Part 1

Chitting On Top Of The World

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.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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).

Chit Chat

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.

Chits And GigglesChit And Stay A While

Why Chit?

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?

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18 comments to How To Grow Potatoes: From Chit To Chit – Part 1

  • All of my potatoes want to sprout before I want to eat them. I don’t have a place to plant them! I just want to eat them! Why do they keep sprouting on me…

    Potatoes seem like the easiest thing to grow, from their willingness to sprout on me.

  • Stephanie – did you try storing them in a dark place? I store mine in a place with minimal light and usually only the ones on top start to sprout. If you sit them on the kitchen counter in the light they will grow and grow. You could also try putting an apple near them or in the bag (but don’t let it rot!). Supposedly the apple releases certain gases that make the potatoes not sprout. Hope this helps!

    Potatoes are one of the things I am super excited about growing. We had multiple setbacks last year that led to only about 5 potatoes coming from our garden. Lucky for us my husband’s best friend grew enough for an army and was kind enough to share a box.

    Has enough grown them in a barrel or in tires? My Mom and I did that once and had great success.

  • my garden will never be without potatoes. The yield to square footage (and effort) is top notch. Better than anything else I’ve grown.

    I am wary of “saving seed” potatoes. They are very susceptible to disease. I suppose if you knew your soil was absolutely disease free that would be fine, but there is always disease present. Certified seed potato growers can afford to test their soil and spuds. Unless we test, we don’t know until its too late. Then again, in a pinch its a good skill to have, but I wouldn’t keep doing it, lest we invite another “an gorta mor”


  • We grew about sixty pounds total last year. We’ve eaten down to about 1/4 of that, which will be our seed potatoes for the same amount (hopefully) again this year. But that’s true about getting new seed potatoes; we have done well using ours for three years at a time. After that we start over — while supplies and suppliers last.

  • Jena – The second time, they were in a dark bag and still sprouted, so I’m not entirely sure what was up with that. Maybe next time I’ll put them under my bed and see what happens!

    I find that counter-intuitive though. In the dark wouldn’t the potatoes ‘think’ they’re under the soil and start to sprout too?

  • Does a bear Chit in the woods- Only if he has yukon golds LOL
    Melinda- isn’t it a tad early to be planting taters? Just wondering- I am not planting mine yet- the potato condo is ready though

  • I generally accidentally chit my potatoes. I have also usually bought the mini tubers from Irish Eyes Garden City Seeds that you don’t cut up. I’ve gotten good yields this way but not as good as I hear other people getting.

    I am really hoping you will demystify the whole part about saving one’s own seed potatoes because I don’t understand how to choose them, how long to store them before planting and what conditions they must be stored in. Seed potatoes are kind of expensive and it makes sense to learn how to choose and store my own.

    Great information as usual!

  • [...] How To Grow Potatoes: From Chit To Chit – Part 1 | One Green Generation Chitting potatoes (part 1). (tags: potatoes spring chitting propagation) [...]

  • This is a really great post! I love the idea of more individuals growing their own food rather than relying on the grocery store.

    Here in Portland they have a group called Growing Gardens that seeks to help low income families start gardens, and its a great program!

  • When the last few potatoes of a bag start going soft I just leave them in my kitchen cabinet. Keep them dark and they will sprout very slowly. Last week I got all the sprouted taters out and planted them in the greenhouse. We had 3 different varieties, so I planted 3 rows.

  • I’m a fresh newbie into gardening.I ‘m concern with grwoing sweet potatoe though-we- as in from Liberia- eat the leaves from sweet potatoe. We actually call it “potato greens”. They are very nourishing, the greenest leaves of any vegetable and full of iron/antioxidants etc. However-we do not eat it raw.

    But i would love to get some ideas on growing sweet potato..And i guess it is called yam also? Is it the same as growing irish potato?

  • sweet potatoes need an entirely different climate. HOT HOT HOT!

    To grow them in my area requires building plastic tunnels to make mini greenhouses. They are a little different to start, take a sweet potato, let it soak in water until the sprouts get about 2-3 inches, snap the sprouts off and soak them until they set roots. Then plant them. I’ve never done it personally, but I know of one person who has.

    by the way, on the subject of regular “irish” potatoes, I have grabbed about 10 pounds of delicious “Purple Viking” spuds so far.

  • thanks, Kory…

    So do u have a pic of that mini greenhouse- i have no clue what that is..i suppose i could look online too..


  • Natty, there is a pic of a mini greenhouse in this post:

    We have sweet potatoes growing in pots in our garden – they are beautiful vining plants. I will let you know if they produce anything! And yes, completely different species that grow in completely different ways from Irish potatoes. : )

  • Shaina

    I have some small fingerlings that I left out to chit to plant this summer. I never got to plant them because it took ages for them to sprout and then I had some minor situations and here I am, Fall in North America, with a wonderful egg carton of chitted potatoes sitting on my kitchen counter. Would it be possible to keep them until next spring? Should I plant them (I was planning on in containers) and keep them in my garage for the winter? I really would hate for them to be wasted as I sent away for them. I was really excited and just wasn’t able to get them into the dirt. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

  • Zina

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  • Carl

    Can you chit seed potatoes that have tubulars on them ? I bought some from thegarden centre and quite a few had white tubulars on them already. I this what I’m looking for ? or should I rub them off and use the advice above? (will the greener shoots still come when placed in light ? Or are these seed potoes now useless?


  • Marilyn

    Wish I had found this site before planting season! I didn’t know why it was important to let the potato callus… thanks for the info.

    My plants are up and are starting to flower but a few have small holes in the leaves… looks like a bug but unable to see any.

    This is my first garden … what do you suggest I use for this condition.

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