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February01

To chit or not to chit? That is the question

 

It’s February now but with the recent snowfall the last thing you will be thinking about is growing seed potatoes (also known as tubers).

 

Have you started ‘chitting’ your seed potatoes?  Do you think it is necessary?  This is one of the long debated questions for potato growers.  On the one hand there is a school of thought that chitting helps to give the potatoes a good start, but is it worth the time and effort?  Commercial potato growers don’t tend to do it whereas domestic potato growers often do.

 

So ‘chitting’ just means sprouting and should start around 6 weeks before planting.  Find the blunt most rounded side of your seed potato  and have that uppermost in chitting trays or old egg boxes.  Keep these at around 8-10 degC in a frost free space such as a porch, conservatory or garage.  Getting some residual heat from the house is ideal.  Shoots will appear.  Once the shoots are between 1.5 and 2.5 cms your seed potatoes will be ready to plant out.

 

Growing your own is becoming increasingly popular and there are now so many varieties to chose from.

You have your first earlies – for example Accord (good for baked potatoes), Foremost (a slug resistant variety), Swift (as the name suggests this is one of the early croppers), Maris bard (good for boiling or making chips), Pentland Javelin (salads, jacket potatoes), Charlotte (versatile potato for many different uses).

 

Second earlies – for example Aaran pilot (good for boiling or jackets), Kestrel (a variety with purple blush on the skin good for mashing , boiling , roasting and frying), Maris Peer (another all-rounder).

 

Maincrops – Desiree (another all-rounder, and a Which? magazine Best Buy for roasting), King Edward (an old favourite for roasting, jackets and mash), Majestic (the variety is over 100 years old and is suitable for most uses), Maris Piper (suitable for most dishes) and Picasso (a disease resistant variety).

 

Whether you chit or not, grow first earlies, second earlies or maincrop potatoes, happy growing!

 

All the varieties mentioned above are available to buy loose at Gotherington Nurseries.

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