Too early to chit?

Hello there. We have our first allotment now and are getting ready to start sowing etc. We collected our first and second earlies and main crop potatoes yesterday. I am going to chit them but wondered whether it was too soon yet? I know we've had a very mild winter so far but I half expect a cold snap and am also wondering if they will be too far advanced for planting out if I start them now. How long do they need? If it is too soon where should I store them? The shed is pretty damp, we have no loft but limited space in a cupboard built above the eaves.

Also, should I chit them in a cooler place or a warm one?  I have a sunny south facing warm windowsill and a much cooler north facing one that has less space. I have no greenhouse other than a little acacia one that currently has a slight issue with mouldy growth where two of the overwintering chocolate cosmos have succumbed (lack of ventilation I guess, am new to having any kind of growhouse!). I have a lot of potatoes to chit but not much room.

I am in the West Midlands. Any thoughts appreciated!




  • Just another thought, I know egg boxes are useful but I have not enough yet. Do the potatoes need to be not touching? 


  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    Concentrate on chitting your earlies as maincrop do not need it.  chit with blunt end upwards.  they can support one another in a seed tray.  Cool unheated spare room with plenty of light but not in direct sun.  I have chitted Charlotte for Mr. Fothergill's Nation of Gardeners Trial and aim at planting five in a potato planter on St. Valentines day.

  • I started chitting at the beginning of feb. You should give them 6 weeks before planting out. And like happymarion said, mine are on a north facing windowsill in the unheated spare room.  I use egg boxes but as long as they are standing on their end so the end with most eyes are uppermost, I don't think it matters if they are touching.

  • Well my earlies are chiting now in egg boxes, so they will be ready for planting early to mid March, depending on the weather. My second earlies will be obtained soon and then set out when I have enough boxes. They are placed in a spare room away from direct light.  It is always a problem to find room, so my boxes are placed on plastic trays that are used for wellies/boots normally. I would chit them as you acquire enough boxes/room.

  • Thank you everyone. Very helpful and informative as always. I had heard recently about not needing to chit main crops , I think on GQT. Good to hear that again image

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    Hi Pipstrelle, chitting is not compulsory by any means, but as you already have them, then doing so under the conditions mentioned above will only help.  What you don't want to do is leave them in the bag anywhere warm as they will produce long white shoots and may even rot, so chitting is also a good way of keeping them healthy until planting time.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 5,108

    I have just put my potatoes out for chitting , in egg boxes that we'd have been savings but trays would do , on the floor of our conservatory which is north facing so does not get to hot but is frost free , I put them all out earlies / mains 

    better if you can chit your mainsimage

  • KEFKEF Posts: 8,915

    First earlies, Pentland Javelin & Vales Emerald now in egg boxes chitting in conservatory. Am considering getting some 2nd earlies so I will have enough to give to family as I think there will be a big problem with potato production this year.

  • MrsT 12MrsT 12 Posts: 77

    Is it too late for me to chit my salad seed potatoes? I have only just received my order!

    I didn't chit my Vivaldi (maincrop) last year - which was my first year growing potatoes -  and they were lovely, but this year I have ordered International Kidney too and wondered if I should chit before planting out later this month?

    Any advice would be gratefully appreciated, thanks.


  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    I've a question. I put my potatos (brought from Wilkinson) to chit in the pantry about 3 - 4 weeks ago and they don't seem to have grown any bigger roots or anything much at all. Does this mean they wont grow?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    Hi Clari image

    Potatoes need light to chit - my guess is that your pantry is dark - most are - pop them on your kitchen windowsill in egg trays - they'll soon start to chit.  

    By the way, chitting produces little stalks, not roots.  The roots will grow after planting. 


    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • djjjukdjjjuk Posts: 212

    Hi, im no expert as this is my first attempt at potatoes - but i started chitting mine 15/02. they are maincrop Maris Piper, as you will read above and as youve said yourself they dont need to be chitted at all but i wasnt too sure about that at the time so set them in egg boxes anyway. hopefully they can be planted early april.

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892
    Dovefromabove wrote (see)

    Hi Clari image

    Potatoes need light to chit - my guess is that your pantry is dark - most are - pop them on your kitchen windowsill in egg trays - they'll soon start to chit.  

    By the way, chitting produces little stalks, not roots.  The roots will grow after planting. 


    Dove, I've a window in the pantry so they've been sat by that. I'll take a photograph in the morning (working v. late tonight) and see what you think regarding their development.

    I guess I'm just used to the ones I buy to eat going crazy that this lack of life worries me!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    Oooh, obviously a big pantry - deep envy here!

    These from the T&M website  look perfect to me 


     and they're the right way up for planting image

    You want short fat sprouts, not long straggly ones. 

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    Not that big alas (my future mother in laws is a pantry to envy! Space for a chest freezer, shelves and you can around walk in it - or by accident shut the dog in it) especially as its full of fridge / freezer right now. I think the people who owned the house before us worked in the double glazing industry!

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 782


    My local Greasy Spoon cafe saved me loads of egg boxes as they do All Day Breakfasts and I am now providing lots to my neighbours on the A

    Good luck

  • Hello again everyone image


    I hope you are all getting on well. Thanks again for your replies.Dove your photo came at just the right time. I was starting to wonder about mineimage The potatoes all look good. I did chit the maincrop in the end as it can only benefit them. I'll have to look in my diary to see when I started chitting. They look just like the photo so does that mean they are ready to plant out?

  • taverentaveren Posts: 6

    I had an allotment for a couple of years and one of the other plot holders always planted his potatoes on the 17th March. I don't know why, he just said he always planted them on that date no matter what the weather was like. Luck of the irish and all that!

  • Lol! Well maybe I should try that, thanks taverenimage

  • If it's of any help, maybe you'd be interested to know that the commercial potato producer round here has just finished planting potatoes in the field at the back of my house.  They don't chit them - any shoots would be knocked off during the mechanical planting process - so I guess they think now's the time to plant spuds for maximum yield. As far as I know they've planted a variety of maincrop potatoes, because I've been told that what they grow usually ends up as frozen chips!

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