To chit or not to chit, that is the question

When the weather looks like this,
one turns to interior gardening.

I received the second-to-last of my seed order: the potatoes. (The last are the sweet potatoes.) Aren’t they beauties. There are 4 different kinds going from early season to late: Red Gold, Katahdin, Carola and Russets. I didn’t get anything wild this time (purple, fingerling) and I selected with an eye toward longevity/storage, except for the early birds. So now I am deciding if I am going to allow them to chit (i.e., sprout) before I plant them. (Ever the optimist, I assume this snow is not going to be with us long.)

Are there ways any of you ALWAYS do your potatoes? I am by nature a fickle experimenter, so I have chitted and not chitted, cut them up and left them whole. (Regarding the cutting: I have noticed that whole potatoes DO make bigger and fewer potatoes. But someplace in the whole deal it breaks down and everyone seems to have lots of little babies. I blame the heavy soil. But I love the little babies.)

And here is a pic of the front porch.

It has become the seedling nursery because we haven’t put the greenhouse together yet. I had to turn the heater on during this spell of cold; the eggplants and peppers (who expect a bit of chilliness) were looking positively unhappy. And I had to bring the seed trays in from the garage, as a field mouse has decided it was HIS salad I had planted. So with the exception of the tomatoes and flowers under the growlights upstairs, this is the start of the season.

If the snow melts, that is.

11 responses to “To chit or not to chit, that is the question

  1. I’m planting potatoes soon, well, as soon as they arrive. It’s my first time so I was just going to do what I was told and plant them whole. Do they really give bigger potatoes that way? I like the big ones for winter use, but I like little ones too… oh decisions decisions. Looking forward to seeing what you do with yours.

  2. i love your porch. what type of greenhouse are you putting up–from a kit? we are investigating greenhouses, so i hope you blog about it once you start!

    i am about a full month behind you here in mass. i will be starting my seeds indoor next weekend. and then to the coldframes (still in progress!).

  3. Ms. Booty Homemaker

    I never knew it was called chitting, but I chit. and cut ’em up. Aside from bakers, I genuinely prefer the smaller potatoes. It’s 23 flipping degrees here on Easter morning; snow flurries over the last days, but nothing stuck. So we have sun and chill. The onliest thing I’ve planted is flowers. I’ve determined to go straight into the ground with my goods this year and go halves on our CSA share and our pocket gardening like the urban dweller I am right now.

    Your porch! Fabulous.

  4. No chiting here… I just plant ’em whole. Since we always get over 100 lbs from 8 lb of seed, I’m not too concerned about which method is “better”. 🙂

    Love the porch.

  5. I chitted last year, and it made me feel better – like I was getting a head start. Did I really? Who knows? I’ll do it again. This year’s potatoes just arrived on Friday, and they’re still in the box. With Minneapolis temps still forecast for the 30s and 40s this week, I figure I still have some time.

  6. Well, as of this a.m. there’s still snow on the ground so it seems I will have a while to consider the chitting issue. I thank you all for your input. As it is, they all may be chitted whether it was my intent or not!

    Thanks for the porch compliments, too. It’s one of my favorite spots. I winterized it so we can enjoy it all year. Can’t now of course because the cats enjoy seedlings…

    And Rooster, the greenhouse is really a coldframe a la Eliot Coleman: it’s to be unheated, covered in poly. There’ll be raised beds in there too.

  7. I cut. And then I forget about them and they don’t get in the ground until they look rather gross. And I don’t get many potatoes. But hope springs eternal and that will not happen this year! I will cut and plant the second day. I do have some really sprouty potatoes though in the pantry. A few little red potatoes that had snuck back in the shadows. Can I plant them? They don’t appear to be treated or anything.

  8. Blackswamp_Girl

    I have never grown potatoes before, but it’s been interesting to read the responses. And I must say that I adore that gorgeous old chest of drawers that your potato sacks were set on to be photographed… wow!

  9. farmer, vet and feeder of all animals

    El—I already have mine in the ground and have been hilling them up—until this last “frost” which burned them back a bit. They’ll be fine though. Some I chitted, some I didn’t– but like you I feel they make it just fine. The thing I like about chitting is that you see them pop up quicker 🙂 Of course you have to wait on them in the house—but you can still see what’s going on!

  10. Meredith, I have planted kitchen sprouts before. I figure that, historically, not every potato has been perfect, and believe me, they do still grow. I’ve never gotten fingerlings to sprout fingerlings, but that doesn’t really bother me. (Waste not…)

    Kim: thanks! Old houses need old stuff.

    And Monica, yeah, I planted some other potatoes already too (they were the last of last year’s harvest) and they got knocked flat by the frost. They’ll do fine.

    I do think the only ones I will need to cut up are a couple of the russets. They’re huge. And like Meredith I have “forgotten” the spuds I tried to harden off after cutting.

    My only issue with potatoes is the space they take up. I get into this whole “you guys are such space hogs” thing, but then I harvest my first babies in July and I change my tune and proclaim “next year more potatoes.” Then I forget my July proclamations in the spring….

  11. I planted Katahdins last year, they were soooo good.

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