Weston's Mark Cox sharing tips on chitting your potatoes
Blink and you missed it.
With the Christmas and the New Year celebrations a distant memory, it’s time to start focussing our attention back on to the garden and all thing horticultural.
The weather is really hit and miss at the moment, it seems to be either bright sunshine or pouring with rain and the worst thing is the ground is saturated with water and it’s taking a long time for this excess water to drain away.
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Rain that fell long before Christmas can still be seen sitting on top of the fields. Fortunately at this time of the year Mother Nature in her infinite graciousness gives us gardeners an indoor job to undertake.
January is chitting time for us the potato grower. Okay we’re not commercial growers but, I’m sure you’ll all agree our little potato plot in our gardens produces the best chips, roasties and salad potatoes man has ever tasted. However, in order to enjoy such delicacies, we first need to prepare our seed potatoes.
Potatoes are Stem Tubers, for those of you who have a scientific bent. Essentially a tuber is a storage vessel full of plant nutrients. From the seed tuber stolen stems grow which develop into more tubers.It is these new tubers which we then harvest, and fill our bellies with.
Now I am a big fan of Lady Christl potatoes, I think they make a salad potato with their delicate thin skins. This variety of seed potato is a “First Early” meaning this particular crop can be planted in mid-March.It’s up to you which variety or varieties of potato you want to grow. As always at Baytree we have a great selection of Scottish certified seed potatoes. Always use certified potatoes as opposed to table potatoes. Table potatoes are potatoes that you can buy from supermarkets etc to eat straight away.
When you get your seed potatoes home you need to start the process of chitting. Now chitting is the process in which the seed tuber begins to grow stems.The best way to get this process started is to place the tubers in an empty egg box. The cells in the egg box are perfect for one tuber per cell.
That’s the complicated work over all you have to do now is leave them in a cool room with plenty of daylight. I’ve put mine on a windowsill in a spare bedroom.
It will take a few weeks in order for the stems to appear and mature to a stage where the tuber can be planted into either a veg bed or a container.
Actually if you don’t have a big garden growing potatoes in a container can be very rewarding.In a few weeks’ time I will explain how to plant a container with seed potatoes for the best results as that’s how I plan on growing mine this year.
As I mentioned earlier the ground is pretty wet and completing any outdoor gardening task is near impossible but there is one outside job that can easily be achieved this week. Leave some bird seed or fat-balls outside for the birds to feed on and a bowl of water for them to drink. If the water freezes break the surface so that they can still access the water. We really need to look after our winged friends at this time of the year as they are an important part our garden eco-system.