Started Chitting Potatoes, It’s Cold

January has been pretty cold here so far, starting the days with a hard frost which sometimes hasn’t gone before sundown. The few warmer days have had drizzle or light rain so they aren’t encouraging me to get out and get something done. Chitting potatoes for planting later in the year. What potatoes I’m growing and why.

Chitting Casablanca Potatoes in Egg Boxes

Chitting Casablanca Potatoes in Egg Boxes

I’ve done some pruning but an hour is quite enough when it’s cold and the wind is making it feel even colder. However, in part that’s because I’m getting nesh in my old age. If you’re not from Staffordshire or the East Midlands, nesh means “unusually susceptible to cold weather”

So, being bored with being cooped up, we went to the plant nursery at Four Crosses – Tyddyn Sachau. They stock quite a range of seed potatoes which they offer in barrels to fill bags from. Pick your Own!

What I like is that you select which individual seed potato you want. So, if you want large seed potatoes then pick those or if you think smaller are better, go for them. My feeling is that the traditionally recommended hen’s egg size is about right. That’s between 50 and 60 grams if you want to be absolutist!

Potato Casablanca

Although Tyddyn Sachau have a really good range, the only seed potatoes they have that I wanted were Casablanca. They’re a fairly modern introduction, 2009, but the flavour is superb and like Maris Bard they make good chips. Consistent and very productive especially for a first early, these are now my goto variety to start off with.

I picked out 20 tubers which weighed about 1.7 kg and paid £3.75. If you buy online you can get near any variety delivered to your door but you’ll certainly pay more than you would by supporting a good garden centre or retailer.

I’m really cutting back this year, just growing three varieties. I always say I’ll cut back on amounts and varieties but never do and we end up with too many. This year I really mean it.

Potato Orla

I’ll be growing Orla as last year they were really productive. A good all-rounder in the kitchen. They’re a bit of an odd one, it was introduced in 1998 as an early but is now often described as an early maincrop.

If chitted, it yields well as a first early but left in the ground the tubers grow on to give a respectable maincrop. It stores well so, with care, can be treated as a maincrop.

When Orla was introduced in 1998 it was one of the most blight resistant potatoes around but in the last 25 years the potato blight has become more virulent and it’s often succumbs.

That’s not too much of a problem if handled properly. Once blight starts hitting the foliage, cut off the haulm and burn it. Leave the crop underground for at least a fortnight before harvesting.

Last year it actually did really well for me despite the it being a bad year for blight here. Even the Sarpo’s were hit.

Potato Sarpo Axona

Finally I’ll be growing Sarpo Axona which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. The younger sister of Sarpo Mira but more even shaped tubers that are more normal in density and size than big sister.

Axona isn’t quite as blight resistant or productive as the amazing Mira but generally it does alright and is more of an all-rounder in the kitchen than Mira.

Own Crop Seed Potatoes

With both Orla and Axona being difficult to find except for online, this year I’ll be using seed potatoes from my own crop. Generally advice is to buy fresh seed potatoes to avoid taking disease from one year to the next and building up.

Regardless, I think it’s OK for at least a couple of years. After that there will might be a build up of viral diseases. On the other hand, people were using their own grown seed for hundreds of years and they got away with it.

Chitting indoors.

In past years I’ve chitted in the potting shed, using a heater to keep above freezing in a cold snap. This year, because I’m not chitting anything like the same quantity, I’ll chit in the deep window which faces south. This house isn’t well equipped for growing in windows but we’ve enough space for what I’m chitting this year.

I’ll start chitting the Orla and Axona in a couple of weeks. Hopefully the cold will have eased and I can plant some of the Casablanca in the polytunnel.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
12 comments on “Started Chitting Potatoes, It’s Cold
  1. Felix O'Hagan says:

    Iam in Scotland a good few weeks behind you in Wales….normally start chitting mid February

  2. Lewis Taylor says:

    Started chiting my early one’s ready for planning in March

  3. Michael Dooley says:

    I will start chatting Sharpes Express first early
    Next week for March planting, some in polytunnel, some outdoors

  4. Tony salter says:

    What are the best seed potatoes to start chatting (,first ,second ,and main s ).

  5. Keith Simpson says:

    Hi John , this year we have chosen 4 varieties due to the success last year. We have started chitting Jazzy, Maris Piper, Duke of York and Albert Bartlett. They went on the window cill yesterday 17/01/23. Let’s hope we have the same results this year.Thank you for great and inspiring news letters.

  6. Andy Carter says:

    I don’t usually start chitting until the 3rd week in February so I was surprised to see the number of people that have already started.
    I’m growing Charlotte and King Edwards this year for a change. Last year I got an excellent crop of Picasso.

  7. Jacky Jackson says:

    I have a sandy soil in the Midlands and brought Charlotte, Swift, Wilja and California Rose.I usually buy a red potato called Setanta but the local nursery didn’t have them in stock this year, so chose the California Rose as a substitute I will start chitting next week for planting on Mothers Day as on this day I won’t be cooking a Sunday dinner.

  8. William Donegan says:

    Hi,not started chitting yet down here in Shrewsbury, l do not want my haulms to far through on the ‘Ice Saints Days’ in May. Got caught out a couple of years ago. Best regards Bill.

  9. John says:

    Can I chit my potatoes in an unheated greenhouse with a fleece cover or is it too cold

  10. Frank Smith says:

    I don`t have the room now since we downsized homes, just some nice raised beds. I do now grow potatoes in tubs which is working out well after trying different methods over the past few years. I live on the coast in North Yorkshire so will be starting chitting early Feb. all being well. Last year I grew Charlotte 2nd earlies and for the first time I tried Caledonian Rose Late which were really good, an all rounder and good yield. I am doing the same this year. I struggle a bit with chitting, not sure of the temperature required, any advice would be welcome.

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