Potato chit chat

potatoes chitting

This year, in my potato bed, I’ll mainly be growing; Winston earlies, Anya salad spuds and Romano maincrop.

We’ve grown Anya before, they’re one of our favourite, but the other two are completely new to us. I’ve chosen them mainly for their pest and disease resistance. Winston is an early baker with high yields and eelworm resistance. And for the maincrops, I was going to pick Desiree which we grew very successfully in the first year, but Romano are very similar to Desiree, with the added benefit of resistance to scab, blight and slugs. So we’ll see how they do.

It is hard to know which varieties to pick, there are so many. There are lots of websites with charts detailing the cooking potential of each variety, such as this one which may help.

So to chitting. If you are new to this, it basically just involves laying the potatoes out in a light, sheltered, dry space (i.e. not in the dark, anywhere damp or out in the frost). They will start to grow little green shoots, and when the soil is warm enough you can plant them out.

It’s not compulsory, a lot of people don’t bother doing it. If you are growing yours in a greenhouse in sacks or tubs (so you don’t need to wait for the outdoor ground conditions to improve) then just go ahead and plant them and they’ll be fine.

Personally, I always chit. Mainly because they are purchased at this time of year, but planting doesn’t take place until late March (if we’re lucky) or into April. So I have to store them for a while anyway, and rather than just leaving them inside their bags (where those at the bottom may grow spindly shoots through being in the dark) I’d rather spread them out evenly and allow air to circulate around them which means they don’t get all sweaty and potentially rot.

Especially important if you find one like this in the bag:

potato rotten

This is why it’s at least worth emptying them out to check. If I’d left this, it would have spread and infected a lot of the others.

Some people use old egg boxes, wooden or cardboard trays are fine, I just use a few seed trays. So long as they are dry and clean it doesn’t really matter.

You just need to know which way up to put them. Like any seed, the roots come out of one end and the shoots out of the other. Place them shoot side up. This might help:

potato top

The top end has a few small ‘eyes’ where the shoots come from. They may be slightly yellow in colour, which makes it easier.

potato bottom

The bottom end has a single, slightly knobbly bit, where the root comes from.

Sometimes, it’s very hard to tell. In which case, don’t worry, just place it any-which-way and check on them once in a while, it’ll become more obvious as the shoots start to grow and there’s always one or two that have to be turned around.

Happy chitting! (My computer so wanted to change that to chatting.)


  1. Hi, you just made me realise its Easter and I might have missed the spud planting, time flies by so quickly, I have heard there is much to be said in praise of lates…


    • Hi Steph, don’t worry you haven’t missed spud planting at all. Easter is early, and according to the weather it’s still winter anyway! Haven’t even started on the plot yet.


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