Introduction: Potato Chitting

About: Hi, I'm Tim. I work on the railways during the day, run a scout troop and have a blog (see above website link) where I discuss my allotment and projects!

No, that's not a typo - this is the third in my grow your own series - Potato chitting is one of those things that some grow-your-own types like and others don't. Remember the last lot of potatoes you bought, stuck in a cupboard and forgot about? Well chitting is the same kind of thing. The potato starts growing in the nice cool windowsill you've got, then you can transplant outside.

You'll need:

1) Potatoes - not just any though!
2) egg box
3) windowsill
4) 'special knowledge' (you'll get that in a minute...)

Step 1: Buying the Potatoes

This is bizarrely an important step - why? That's because normal store bought potatoes will usually be OK, but may possibly contain disease you don't want to put into your soil. Use 'seed' potatoes from the local nursery or seed store and you can guarantee they will be virus free. That's not to say that the soil you're putting them in is disease free, but at least they'll have a fighting chance.

You can pick them up fairly cheaply from a good shop - mine here cost £2 from the local nursery

More importantly is that you can often pick up varieties of potato not usually available or even endangered or rare plants - though often these are sold as actual plants rather than the rare and valuable tubers.

Step 2: Learning the Knowledge...

Did you know a potato has a right and a wrong way up? No? Well that is why this part of the instructable exists and why I bothered in the first place!

Look at my blurry photo below (Damn my nokia n95 which I've been using for all my grow your own series pics)

See the knobby bits - commonly called 'eyes' - these are where the potato sprouts from. As far as you are concerned this is 'up'. Welcome to the potato grower brotherhood...

Step 3: Chitting

Now stick them in a nice big egg tray - this is useful to keep them separate and dry - they'll probably work just as well in a seed tray, but this way you don't have to stack them carefully to make sure they are the right way up.

Put the tray somewhere nice and light - a windowsill is great as long as it is cool. My room is quite warm (As is under my sink where the eaters are) and they still work great there too.

Step 4: Chits!

Below is a potato which has begun to chit - over the next few weeks this'll become more prominent. 4-6 weeks is the average time it takes to chit a potato properly and is best done between the end of jan to late march. After that, in the ground it goes being careful to not break off the forthcoming chits.

If you found this instructable interesting and have diligently worked through every step, well done you. The alternative way of growing potatoes is below:

1) buy potatoes
2) dig hole in ground
3) put potato in ground
4) cover potato in soil
5) wait till plant has flowered
6) dig up avoiding poking your fork into the potato.]

As you can see, chitting isn't required - and I tried it last year with very little difference in quality, though chitting does seem to provide more quantity - perhaps because it is not caught in the early frosts.