Chitting Seed Potatoes – Charlotte Again

Oh chit!

Sorry, it had to be done.

Yes, I’ve already started chitting these second early Charlotte potatoes. Actually, I bought them a couple of weeks ago and put them out to chit a few days after. I wanted to improve on last year’s efforts – I bought three or so bags of seed potatoes, proceeded to leave them out for a few weeks and then had to pick my way through a slightly spongey selection to find chittable potatoes.

Am I inventing a whole host of new chit-related verbs? Chitting..chittable. Hmm. Works for me.

Anyhow! My Charlottes have been on the windowsill in the kitchen for a couple of weeks, and already the little sprouts have started stirring. I’m not expecting anything magnificent. After all, the kitchen windowsill is only marginally warmer than our conservatory at the moment. And our unheated greenhouse is currently missing two roof panes, so is a complete no-go area at the moment. But I did struggle a bit last year to get everything in on time, so this year I thought I’d just have a go at getting my second earlies to sprout a little earlier. That’s the plan, anyway. Not that my crop of Charlottes weren’t good last year, they were just perhaps somewhat later than expected. But then I could blame that on the ‘Summer That Wasn’t‘…

But Mum and I have definitely decided not to plant maincrop potatoes at the allotment. Don’t get me wrong. I ADORE potatoes (eating, obv.), possibly more than I should. Especially maincrop ‘fluffy’ varieties like Maris Piper. But from an economical and space point of view, both here at the Smallest Smallholding and on the allotment, I just think that it makes much more sense for me to buy a bag of maincrops for £5 or thereabouts from my local farmer, and dedicate my space to less space-hogging veggies, herbs, salads and fruits. Oh, I don’t know. Sitting here and pondering it, if I manage to dig out another plot here I might use some maincrop potatoes as a first-year weed control scheme. But the fact is is that my back has been dreadful, so I don’t hold out much hope, unless Rich is feeling particularly valiant with a spade. Hah – *snort*.

My back makes me feel about 86, not 26. I went for a big treatment session today, which has left me tired and bruised, but I know it’s one of those ‘no pain, no gain’ scenarios. I’ve been given a whole host of exercises to do, and it’s been suggested that I need to do Yoga at least 3 times a week on top of my swimming. So there goes another reason why I need to get my life more organised and in order. And another GREAT reason why I don’t have to dig. Yes, that’s right. REASON. Not excuse!

Actually, I’ve been researching and writing a short article about straw bale growing (no digging!). Mum tried it a couple of years ago with some tomatoes, but wasn’t too impressed. However, I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve now that I may blog about later, if I get around to giving it a go. Straw bale growing is cheap, which on my 2009 Year of the Low Budget gives it a definite thumbs up. And at the end of it you have a lot of compostable material, which earns it a few brownie points too. So we’ll see.

And an update on the woodland area – one of my local garden centres is currently doing an ‘early bird’  50% off seeds promotion. I found a special wildflower seed mix that featured the likes of ragged robin and harebell. I think you can start sowing in February so I’m definitely going to have a bash, once I get my next invoice in. I did have a scout about for some native woodland species at the nursery, but I’m being far too eager because it’s just too early. This is usually the part of the year where I start to get all wiggly and impatient about the growing year. But if there’s one thing gardening and vegetable growing teaches you, it’s patience. Which is a real pain in the backside when you’re a completely impatient person like me!


  1. I’m feeling a bit jealous of al this talk of earlies, late, main etc.

    Here in Spain because of the crazy summers all anyone gets is one main crop. Great potatoes but I wish we could have more variety.

    On a happier note though. No chitting. We can buy them ready chitted from a local supplier for the same price as if we had to do it ourselves!

  2. Indeed, patience and tolerance is part and parcel of gardening and veg-growing.

  3. I am on the hunt for charlottes as OGC had none left….

    ho hum….

  4. CW – I’ll keep my eyes peeled here and see if I can come across any for you.

    Mr. Dirty Boots – really the chitting doesn’t bother me at all, seeing as I just have to leave them to their own devices. Does take up a lot of space though, so I guess buying ready chitted definitely has it’s plusses!

    Thursday – one of the many life lessons you can learn from growing your own etc. I think it’s an important quality that a lot of people – including myself – could gain a lot from. Too much rushing and cramming in modern life!

  5. Thank you! That IS kind of you…but I am after about 30 of them, if not more…is that too many?

    Cw xx

  6. I’ve just come across your blog and really enjoyed reading it – but I worry about your back! Have you tried reflexology? Far less painfull than massage etc and has very good results. Also, if you don’t fancy yoga, try Tai Chi – an excellent all round exercise that strengthens all your muscles, but particularly the core muscles and spinal support muscles.
    Take care of yourself!

  7. Hi Liz
    Thanks for your kind comment! Don’t worry about my back, I get regular osteopathic treatment so just have to manage it. And I did do Tai Chi when I was a teenager for a short while. So it’s def. an option!

  8. Tom amateur gardener says


    I just started to chit my charlottes a few days ago. How big should the sprouts be when they are ready to plant?

  9. robert gibson says

    hi i planted charlottes potatoes about 5 weeks ago,still no shoots cuming through.never done before,i dug a trench about5 inches deep.added conpost and fertiliser.had plenty water.thing is i put them straight into soil,just lay them down,could u tell me will they grow thanks robert.

  10. robert gibson says

    just to add to my comments when i bought seed potatoes from garden centre,when i got home i planted them straight away.never waited till shoots where growing first ,will they still grow will they take longer cheers robert.

  11. Hi Robert

    Sounds as if your potatoes might take longer, if they haven’t chitted beforehand. Some people say it’s not necessary, but I think it’s a good idea as I reckon it gives them a good start. If you’ve had frosts, this might have slowed down progress as well. But give it a while, and be careful not to overwater if you’ve got clay soil as this could rot the seed potatoes. Once they get going, they really get going!

    good luck x


  1. It’s chitting time… or is it? « Small Plot Big Ideas says:

    […] potatoes I’ve bought for this year are Charlotte (a second early or so I’m told) and very popular with home growers it appears. I have great hopes for them and I’m just hoping that my expectations are met in […]

  2. It’s chitting time… or is it? » Small Plot, Big Ideas says:

    […] potatoes I’ve bought for this year are Charlotte (a second early or so I’m told) and very popular with home growers it appears. I have great hopes for them and I’m just hoping that my expectations are met in […]