This has to be another sign that spring is on the way, the potatoes are out in their egg box holders chitting!
Why chit potatoes? Well simply when growing at a small scale (commercial potatoes farmers rarely chit potatoes, due to the space constraints), it helps the potatoes to get a little bit of a head start before they go into the ground. The aim is to encourage the potatoes to start to sprout, and ideally we’re looking for small (normally) dark purple sprouts. This is achieved by leaving the potatoes in the light at room temperature for a couple of weeks before planting.
I use cardboard egg boxes, as their ideal for supporting the potatoes, and preventing them from rolling around, and potentially damaging the sprouts that I’m trying to encourage. You can also use seed trays or seed modules – horses for courses folks, it’s whatever works for you!
As I mentioned in my video update (6th Feb) below, folklore says that normally you plant early potatoes at Easter and then harvest 100 days later. Now I’m using the term folklore advisedly here, because it certainly is good advice and last year proved exactly true. I planted my spuds on Easter Saturday and exactly 100 days later dug the first plant to an excellent crop!
This year Easter Saturday is the 26th March, which as I said in the video feels a little early given the potential for there still to be frost (our last predicted frost day is normally mid April, but again only a prediction), however having checked last year’s calendar, Easter Saturday 2015, was April 4th. So on that basis only 9 days later than it is this year. So perhaps not as early as I felt it was.
For now I’m not going to make any decisions either way. I’d certainly like to get my potatoes in the ground on Easter Saturday; as it feels like a milestone in the growing calendar. At the moment however, the ground is too wet, and the risk of them rotting in the ground is probably greater than any risk of frost, so there’ll need to be a dry spell between now and Easter anyway if that’s what I’m aiming for!