I have always found the term ‘ chitting’ a funny word. Even so, every year we chit a few potatoes for the garden.
The idea behind this is to give them a bit of a head start. This is different to opening a bag of potatoes that have been left in the back of the cupboard to find they have white sprouts on them. You want to lay the potatoes out, an egg box is ideal, so that the bottoms are dark and the tops are light. The top part of the potato starts to grow green shoots. This can take a few weeks to get going but then when you plant your crop you should be able to harvest a few weeks ealier.
The potatoes in the photos are a first early variety. I think they are called homeguard. My dad is also a keen veg grower and he gave them to me. Potatoes are always grouped into when the are ready for harvesting. Varieties in the first early group are the earliest croppers. I only have a few as I like the taste of new potatoes but don’t see the point in growing a huge patch of them to store. I like to grow more of the things that cost more to buy.
It is magical to dig up a plants and hunt for the potatoes underneath. The kids are always happy to help with that job. Each one of these potatoes will grow a plant producing about 10 potatoes. Each plant will be enough for one meal for the five of us.
My real favourite is a variety called pink fir. These first earlies are just to give us our first taste of homegrown new pots in early summer. The pink fir variety will be ready for eating later on. I haven’t planted any of them yet as they are still ‘chitting’. Pink firs are a nobby shape but they are great in salads and taste delicious. They are more expensive to buy in the shops as they are a more unusual variety and also probally due to their irregular shapes. They keep well in the fridge if you dig up too many and the dozen I intend to plant will see us through all our late summer potato meals!
We serve them boiled and tossed in a herb butter, warm with a salad dressing or cold in a mayonaise sauce. Yummy! I have only planted the first ones last week so still have a wait to taste them.