There is on-going debate about whether to chit seed potatoes or not. Most allotment owners I speak to on my site and on social media will be chitting their potatoes. Whilst the majority of commercial growers do not chit before planting.
After doing lots of research, my view is that if you can give them a head start and increase the chance of having a better crop, then why wouldn’t you try it.
My Dobies seed potatoes arrived just over a week ago so I wanted to get them out the box this week to ensure they didn’t start growing long, weak sprouts.
I went for two varieties, Charlotte as my first early and Sarpo Mira as my main crop.
An RHS Award of Garden Merit winner, Charlotte potatoes are a latish first early salad type, producing good crops of medium sized pale yellow oval tubers that are waxy when young. Great beginner variety, good blight and scab resistance.
Sarpo Mira variety are described as red, oval, unprecedented blight resistance, good slug resistance, vigorous weed suppressing foliage and grows well in a wide range of soils.
Along with both having positive reviews, I decided these were good varieties to try for my first time.
They have only been out a couple of days and the sprouts are looking stronger (shown below). I am aiming to plant the Charlotte variety on Easter Monday then the main crop a few weeks later, so they still have plenty of time to develop beforehand.
Who else has their potatoes ‘chitting’ on the window sill or in another cool, light space? What varieties have you chosen? Would love to hear your views.
Have a lovely weekend, rain or shine.
27 thoughts on “Time for a ‘chit’ chat”
I’m waiting for my local garden centre/nursery to get their selections out on the tables. They are great for GYO stuff but seeing add this year has been so weird I’m not surprised they haven’t started them yet.
My local garden centre put theirs out this week so hopefully yours will be soon. Do you know what varieties you are going to try?
Not yet. This is my first year doing GYO so my options are open.
I’m wanting an all round potato I think. So maybe a Maris Piper or a king Edward. I’ll see what they have. I also want a potato for salads… So maybe Charlotte would be good for me too.
I nearly went for both those varieties, both meant to be pretty good crops. Keep me posted with what you decide 🙂
Charlotte are perfect for salads, they are also the one variety I have not heard a bad thing about. Everyone has successful stories with them.
That was my selling point for Charlotte. It’s a good producer that is fairly blight hardy. Really important according to the books.
Also I don’t know what to expect up here in the wilds of Yorkshire. It’s windy and wet now but in the summer it can get quite dry.
We shall see! B-)
Hi. On balance I think it is wise for the ‘amateur ‘ to chit their spuds. Generally we will buy these early and bring them into an environment where they will feel the need to start to sprout. If they are left in a dark environment then their growth will be weak and spindly.
Farmers will have the benefit of having seed potatoes coming from a controlled environment which will have resulted in no or very little growth. They therefore have the benefit of planting their seed potatoes at an optimum stage, at an optimum time.
Charlotte are a reliable early. I’ve not grown Sarpo varieties but they are supposed to be very resistant to blight. However, I’m not sure about their habit or yield. Good luck and keep tweeting.
I’m really interested in how you get on with your plot. I’ve been gardening on an amateur and professional basis for around 48 years and I’m still up for learning.
Completely agree. Thank you Steve! This year will be my first growing year on my plot so really looking forward to planting, watching the plot transform and I’m sure lots of trial and error. I love that with gardening you are constantly learning 🙂 have a good weekend, looks like it’s going to be an indoor day here.
I’ve never grown potatoes. What is chitting?
Hi Erika, Chitting is basically giving just the seed potato a head start and the chance to start sprouting before planting. You place the seed potatoes in egg trays in a cool light place with the sprouts at the top and leave them. Here is a link: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/vegetables/potatoes?type=v
You can grow them in sacks too so definitely worth trying 🙂
Hmm…I may have to try potatoes sometime. Before long I’ll have to turn my whole front yard into a garden. Lol!
Do it! Haha 🙂
We’ve had our allotment for 3 years now, got it January 2013 so this is now our 4th full growing year. Apart from that first year, we’ve chitted our spuds and we’re doing the same this year. I’ve bought Desiree, Nicola and Albert Bartlett Vivaldi as first earlies and salad potatoes, and a bag of Albert Bartlett Red Rooster as main crop. It’s our first time with the Albert Bartlett..
Hi, In your 4th year you must of learnt lots by now. I can’t wait for my first growing year, need more sunshine first though to get the plot ready.
Ooo..lots of different varieties, how exciting! Good luck with them all. Would love to know how they do 🙂
I’ll start chitting my potatoes in a couple of weeks. For first earlies I’m growing Red Duke of York (I fancy trying a red-skinned potato and this is a good heritage variety). And for second early I’m trying International Kidney (it’s officially a maincrop it’s also grown as a second early, and I’ll try growing it in bags).
Have heard good about both so will be interested to hear how they go, good luck! I’m tempted to try a couple of mine in a bag and see how they compare.
I grew Sarpo Mira last year and i was really happy with them. Whilst all my tomatoes got blight the sarpos carried on fine! Nearly all the tubers were large or very large and the yield was surprisingly good! What i find interesting is the difference in the leaves and stems of these potato plants. The leaves are much smoother and the stems have frills on them compared with the normal potatoes I grow. Gives a huge insight into how blight takes hold in the first place!
I’m really pleased you had success with Sarpo Mira, they don’t seem quite as popular as Charlotte’s but I wanted a main crop as well. The fact they are blight resistant made me decide they were best for my first attempt.
That definitely sounds interesting, I will take an extra close look at the leaves now you have mentioned that. Which variety do you normally grow?
It’s considered vital to chit early varieties and useful for main crop ones so I do all mine. I put them in plastic trays on the windowsill in the spare room. Allow around six weeks before planting and the shoots should be sturdy and about an inch long.
Charlotte are my favourite variety, along with Kestrel a second early. Both grow to a good size and keep well. I also grow a few first earlies, this year Red Duke of York, and main crop Desiree. xx
Thank you Mike 🙂 I’m planning on planting at the end of March so will be around 8 weeks by then and they are looking great already.
How do you store your Charlotte variety? Red Duke of York and Desiree both seem to be really popular since I opened up discussion, will have to try them next year.
That’s when I’ll be starting to plant mine out, weather and ground conditions permitting. Make sure all stored potatoes are dry and undamaged, keep in hessian or paper sacks and check them regularly. I grew red Duke of York for the first time last year and found them excellent. Desiree is a popular main crop variety which I’ve always done well with. xx
Thank you. Will go with paper sacks as they remind me of when grandparents visit every Christmas since I was born and bring a huge sack of potatoes with them in a paper sack.
Sarpo Mira are great variety producing very large potatoes and really are blight resistant. I had a few rogue potatoes left in the ground that produced an amazing quantity of free potatoes. It’s very rare that all potatoes are harvested in one sitting so sometimes rogues ones left behind produce an extra crop for free. I was still amazed at the quality and size of these too. Only downsize for me is that they are floury in texture and don’t boil well for mash.
Hi Debb, thank you for visiting my blog. I’m glad you have had great results with Sarpo Mira. I am certainly looking forward to digging up my first crop when the time comes.
Grandpa, who taught me to garden, always used to chit, so I guess I just went along with that and have always chitted. TBH, the whole chit-or-not debate took me a bit by surprise ‘cos I’d never thought of not doing it. The new plot is also a lot smaller than the old and we’re having to grow spuds in bags, so I figure they need all the help they can get. “The Undergardener” picked up some end-of-line King Edward seed potatoes last month for 10p a bag. They looked in a shocking state, but they’ve shot up and the first bag flowered today; “The Undergardener” is justify alb chuffed to bits.
Next season, the plan is to grow as many bags of Kestral spuds as we can cram in. We used to grow Kestral on the old plot and it’s a really good spud. Great taste and the only variety we’ve come across that’s as good roasted, baked, mashed or chipped.
Here’s hoping your spuds do well and that all’s well at No. 27.
All the best!