Grow the Earliest New Potatoes

19 March 2013 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

Chitting PotatoesIf like me you can't wait to taste the very first New Potatoes of the season you need to start your preparations now by setting your seed potatoes out to ‘chit’ as soon as possible. 


The purpose of chitting is simply to produce plump, sturdy, dark green or purple shoots, no more than an inch long.  Do this by setting the tubers side by side in a shallow tray, (an empty egg carton is ideal), with the blunt end (which has the most ‘eyes’), uppermost.  These eyes will form the ‘chits’ or shoots and will give an earlier maturing crop.  Place the trays in a light, cool, frost-free place to start the chitting process. 


Potatoes grow best in rich soil with plenty of organic matter, so it is worthwhile taking a bit of time to prepare the bed by digging and incorporating some well-rotted compost or a general-purpose fertiliser to the soil and breaking down any lumps. 


As a general rule planting can begin in March, but this will vary slightly depending on which part of the country you live and of course the weather.  Avoid planting in really cold, wet soil, as this can cause the tubers to rot.   A good rule of thumb is to take notice of when your lawn begins to grow, this usually means the soil has started to warm up!


However, to get a slightly earlier crop you can cover your prepared plot with a layer of fleece about two weeks before you intend to plant.  This will warm the soil and get your early potatoes off to a flying start keep them covered with the fleece until the risk of frost is passed.


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