Updated: Jan 8
What is chitting?
Chitting potatoes involves placing seed potatoes in a light frost-free place during winter so they can grow green shoots about a couple of inches long. Usually this is done in January or February so they can be planted out from March.
Does it have an impact?
While many gardeners swear that you absolutely should chit them, you really don't have to. The science shows that while chitting may in some case increase yields by up to 30%, other factors such as variety or the growing conditions that year
can be just as important. These studies also show that if chitting does increase the yield, it can lead to fewer potatoes, but larger potatoes. So if you prefer many small potatoes, chitting isn't the way to go.
Other things to consider?
Personal Preference: It's really up to you for another reason too - some of us love growing anything as early as possible in the season and seeing those green shoots appear feeds that buzz - while others might find shrivelled potatoes all over every windowsill in the house quite off-putting!
Growing Space: Another thing to think about is if it is an effective use of space? For example that space might be better used to start heat loving long season plants early e.g. tomato or chilli plants.
Timing: Also if it's already March or nearly March when you're reading this- no need to chit as you won't gain any growing time!
Storage: If you aren't planning to chit, you'll need a cool (around 10C) frost-free and pest-free dry dark place to store your seed potatoes until they are ready to plant out. You should check them weekly for any spoiled seed potatoes and remove these immediately so they don't spoil the rest. If you see the potatoes are starting to sprout in earnest, go with nature and start chitting them!