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Sue Swift

OK - I know you were dying for someone to say What's chitting? So I'm the dummy. I hasten to add that I don't grow many potatoes on the balcony, and tend to skip those chapters in the gardening books, so if everyone is going Tut!Tut! she's never chitted, please can I be forgiven my ignorance .... :)

John Curtin

For those that don't know chitting is the process of laying tubers in a cool, bright place (the windowsill of an unheated room perhaps)to encourage them to produce strong,sturdy shoots and give(in theory)an earlier crop and higher yield. Think I'll plant some unchitted maincrops this year and compare with the same variety chitted.

Rebsie Fairholm

My understanding of it is that chitting (i.e. allowing potatoes to grow small sprouts before planting them) is not essential ... but it does give the spuds a head start. It's probably more useful for earlies than for maincrops. If you plant unchitted tubers they will probably be fine, just a bit slower to get going.


Gardener's world did a trial on this subject a little while ago and I seem to remember that there was benefit to chitting for first earlies but perhaps not for maincrop potatoes. Given that commercial growers don't do it at all I guess you could save on your window-sill space.


Just wanted to say thanks John for all your chitting advice following my storage issue that I wrote about on my blog recently.

If a seed potato is looking a little soft and the skins is a little wrinkled, is this the sign of a bad potato?

Kim - not necessarily but keep an eye on them. At the moment I have some squishy Charlottes on my windowsill and though wrinkled and soft (I'd had them in store) they have now started to produce strong dark shoots. What I've noticed is when they do go soft and I roast them the taste is not nearly so good as earlier in the season. But then Charlottes are not bred as a long keeper (other types like King Edward seem to mature in storage - rather like good wine I suppose).


What about chitting as a way to 'save' seed potatoes that are sprouting in storage? If they sprout in storage, the sprouts get long and weak because of the lack of light.

Is it better to put these tubers in sunlight so the sprouts get stronger or keep them in storage?

Is it even a problem if potatoes do this in storage?

Patrick - I'd be tempted to rub off the weak shoots, expose the tuber to light in a cool place and wait for them to produce strong dark shoots. This I'm doing with some soft wrinkled Charlottes I had in store and so far they are OK.


Well I've heard that it's not essential to chit, but it gives them something to do while you wait for the frosts to finish. I've also heard that you don't necessarily have to chit in a light space. Once I get round to mine, they're going under the sofa. But that's more to do with lack of space than anything else.


Hi folks, don't know if you've visited the Observer's new allotment blog, but I've just published a piece by Dan Pearson which briefly covers chitting potatoes in it - your thoughts on the subject would be most welcome there too ...


I have tried keeping potatoes in the refrigerator from last Summer but found that they started chitting by the end of January, so I have planted them quite deep hoping that the snow has not allowed the frosts to get down that deep and the light levels in February will encourage good progress. Last year's best variety given that it was a hosepipe ban was an Italian variety called Elvira. Most important is to get a regular rotation going to keep the soil healthy.


Hosepipe Bans

Does anyone out there know if hosepipe bans apply to allotments?

John Curtin

As I have no water source on my allotment, other than what I save from the shed roof etc, I don't know if the ban applied to allotments but I thought they were exempt. In any event I think most water companies and certainly Thames Water in London and Surrey have lifted the ban.

trefor davies

ive got a couple of baking spuds i havent eaten that have started chitting.apart from the virusses and such posted above that can result from shop bought spuds,is there any reason i cant plant them in pots and expect a yield? also how hermful are these viruses and are they easily enough spotted so that a fool like me wouldnt eat a bad spud? oh and why do people keep telling me to watch out for my horse radish as though theres cyannide in 'em? thnx guys
1st season grower and luvin' it allready!!

Hi there,

Try growing them and see what happens. The virus issue will affect potato growth and not humans. As for horseradish - I don't know the answer so can't help you on that one.

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