It’s that time of year when the seed potatoes I ordered a couple of months ago arrive through the post. It always makes me happy because it means that the growing season is starting.
The weather is cold and most mornings we have either frost or fog, but by the afternoon usually they’ve gone and the sun is out. A memory from last year came up on my Facebook page today reminding me that this time last year we had snow. At the time it wasn’t much, but we then got quite a lot more and I was unable to work for a week, to be honest we couldn’t get the car out of the courtyard onto the road. It’s something we get used to so are prepared. The kids went sledging one afternoon in the snow and were gone for hours. I say kids, at the time they were 18 and two of them were 21, so not really kids. Although the way they played in the snow……
There is no snow on the cards at the moment, but I’m sure we’ll get some before the winter is through.
I’ve got a quiet week at work this coming week so have lots planned in the garden. I’ve got seeds to sow, various veggies to harvest and more tidying up to do. Also the on going job of stopping certain creatures that keep burrowing under next doors fence and into our garden. You think you stop them and then they find another way in. I will win one day, I think it’s rats, but I’ve ordered a wildlife camera to see exactly what it is. Hopefully they’ll arrive this week and then I’ll know for certain. Little buggers. They don’t seem to be eating anything, just digging the woodchips on the back path. I’m now wondering if it’s a stoat? Hopefully this question will be answered when I get my camera.
Anyway back to the potatoes. Once you get your spuds you’ll need to take them out their packaging and start the “chitting” process. This sounds complicated but isn’t. Check each potato over and if any are soft or have started to go mouldy then get rid of them. Next just put the potatoes in a single layer on a metal or plastic tray, or if you have lots of egg boxes these are perfect. Just put one seed potato where the egg used to go. Then put them on a window sill so they don’t have to stretch for the light and just leave them to do their thing for a couple of months.
What you want to end up with are short stumpy shoots. If they have to stretch for the light, then you’ll end up with long thin shoots that will break off very easily. Here’s a video I made a couple of years ago with a little more information on.
I know that some people only chit their first and second earlies, but I do all mine, always have done. Just let them do their thing until you plant them outside from the middle of March. This year I have two different varieties of potatoes “Jazzy” and “Sarpo Mira”.
Here they are on the window sill keeping Prickly Pete company.
Anything else I do this week I’ll keep you posted on. Hope you have a wonderful week and are able to get something done in you garden.
happy to see you are doing well, I do miss the ytube vid’s
There just aren’t enough hours in the day to make videos as well as work full time, look after the house and family, sort my own garden, write and do all those other things. The videos are still on YouTube and I’m still doing blogs.
Hi Claire, First time I’m growing potatoes this year: I was thinking of waiting to buy them in late Feb / March as I saw in one of your videos this was the time for sowing and that they only need a few weeks chitting – is there a reason to buy them so early? (Do they become sold out by late Feb / March?). And if you do buy them now for March sowing, will they store alright on a 20’C windowsill from now till March? Thanks 🙂
Buy them now and start them chitting. All the seed companies send theirs out at this time. I always do mine at this time of year as the longer they chit for the better. If you wait until late Feb/March then you’ll be very limited on which varieties you’ll be able to get. Most will have sold out even local garden centres will have a very limited supply, if any at all. Mine are on a sunny window sill and will stay there until I plant them out. It’s a south facing window so it gets hot during the day. When we used to live in our old house I chitted my potatoes in the kitchen and they were fine. Make sure you lay them in a single layer and not tightly packed together. Hope this helps x
Thanks Claire – I’ll have a go buying them asap then and not worry if they get a bit warm while chitting 🙂 Thanks so much for your help!
Claire, I just ordered my potatoes. The traditional planting time for potatoes in Nebraska is on Good Friday. The soil temperature here today is 31F or -1C at 10 inches depth. The ground won’t thaw out until about the middle of March. We just had five inches of snow and probably will have more before the end of February. I live precariously through your posts until I can actually get outside and start digging in the dirt. Have a great potato chitting day.