Chitting will give your potatoes a head start…
While the cold weather persists and the ground is hardened by late winter frosts, it is too early to begin planting in the vegetable patch, but there are still lots of things that restless gardeners can do to get this year’s crop off to a flying start.
Now is the time to select the potato varieties that you plan to grow; careful choice of first early, second early and maincrop varieties will provide you with delicious home-grown potatoes from May all the way through to the winter months. Here at Larch Cottage we have a wide range of seed potatoes to choose from, including special variety selections that will ensure a tasty crop from early in the season.
First early varieties are the earliest to mature and can be planted from mid-late April and are harvested between July-September.
Maincrops can also be used as new potatoes but it is best to allow them to develop to full maturity so that they can be stored and used over the winter months.
It is a good idea to begin chitting your seed potatoes now by placing them in a light, frost free place. This will encourage the ‘eyes’ to sprout shoots before planting in the ground, a process that can speed up the growth rate of your crop and shorten the time to harvest by up to 14 days. Place your potatoes in an egg carton with the ‘rose’ end facing upward (the end which has the most of the ‘eyes’) and allow the shoots to begin developing. Before planting into the ground rub off the weakest shoots, leaving the four strongest shoots intact. It is best to select shoots that are around 3cm long.
Chitting will give your potatoes a head start while the winter weather gradually gives way to milder temperatures, and also marks the beginning of the growing season in the vegetable patch.