Potatoes: You gotta be chitting me!
In late winter while there might be snow still lying deep in the garden, it is time to start getting seed potatoes ready for planting.
If you are new to growing tatties you might not be aware that you are about to lose the use of your windowsills for the next month. This is because there is a vital pre-planting stage for potato growers, known as ‘chitting’.
By encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting, you are giving your potato plants a headstart and maximising your chances of a great potato harvest later in the season.
Open up your pack of seed potatoes and place them in a suitable tray. Egg boxes are the perfect choice, but ordinary garden seed trays will be fine too.
Place them in a light and cool place such as a north facing windowsill. The potaotes need the light but need to be shielded from harsh direct sunlight.
If the potatoes have already begun to sprout, carefully rub off all but three of the sprouting eyes of each potato. When choosing which to leave, keep the thicker vigorous sprouts all pointing in roughly the same direction. Remove the weedy, weak or undeveloped sprouts.
Handle your chitted potatoes with care
The potatoes will be ready to be planted out in soil when the shoots are around one inch (2.2cm) long. When you plant them, be gentle with your chitted potatoes. Sett them into the trench without breaking the shoots and ensure the shoots are pointing upwards as far as possible.