Thursday, 25 August 2011


Potatoes are tubers in which all the energy for growing is stored. The growing season in Britain is relatively short and chitting potatoes allows for a faster crop. The warming up of the ground in the spring would naturally break their dormancy period and the potatoes would produce sprouts and  grow.

Potatoes are in a natural state of dormancy in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius.  Chitting potatoes can reduce this time by one to two months. Every spring, keen gardeners will be chitting potatoes in order to break the dormancy of the seed potato and get a head start on the season. 

There are many varieties of potato, but they are divided in early, second early and main crops. Early crops will produce a crop in late spring/early summer and include new potatoes.  Second earlies take 16 to 17 weeks to mature and are ready to harvest from late June to the beginning of August. Main crops will produce a crop in late summer/autumn 18-20 weeks after planting and include varieties such as King Edwards and Desiree.

Early cropping cultivars will produce a heavier crop if chitted. By chitting main crop varieties you are encouraging the earlier growth of foliage and production of earlier potatoes, which is an advantage over summer droughts, potato blight or slug problems.

Chitting potatoes 'forces' the seed potato to break its dormancy and start to grow by introducing light and heat artificially. Seed potatoes are available to purchase at the beginning of the year and chitting is best carried out in the middle of February. Use only seed potatoes, and not other potatoes, as these will give you the most successful crop.

Select potatoes that are roughly the size of a hens egg. Place them upright into a into a container - an egg box is ideal for this. You should place the potato so that the end with the most eyes (sprout buds) is uppermost. Place them in a cool  well lit room at a temperature of just above 10 degrees Celsius until new shoots (sprouts) are produced.

The new sprouts will start to develop in a few weeks and the chitting process will be complete in 4-6 weeks. You may wish to retain only the four strongest sprouts in Early varieties as this will encourage the potato to put all its growing energy into these shoots and develop quicker. Potatoes are ready for planting from March onwards.

For related articles click onto:
Growing herbs
Growing rhubarb
Growing potatoes
Growing tomatoes
Growing tomatoes from seed
Harvesting potatoes
How to grow broccoli from seed
How to grow cauliflower from seed
How to grow garlic
How to build a cold frame
How to grow artichokes from seed
How to Grow Asparagus from Seed
How to grow cabbage from seed
How to grow carrots from seed
How to grow cucumbers from seed
How to grow french beans from seed
How to grow lettuce from seed
How to grow onions from onion sets
How to grow onions from seed
How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
How to grow runner beans from seed
How to grow runner beans from seed
How to grow seeds indoors
How to grow strawberries from seed
How to grow tomatoes from seed
How to make compost
How to propagate using division
How to propagate from seed

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