Should you chit your potatoes?

Plant your potatoes now, no time for chitting

Some gardeners are all for chitting. But here is the secret: you don’t need to chit to be successful.

Chitting your potatoes means allowing the eyes of your potatoes to sprout before you put them in the ground. Some gardeners swear by it, but what most have found is that chitting or not, you get the same results.

Plant your potato seeds now, within the first week and a half or so of March. We are already getting a late start, as potato planting season in South Texas is from January through early March. I have had success planting in early March, so you can too.

Use potato seeds, since grocery store potatoes are treated not to sprout. I got mine at Rainbow Gardens, where they still have a couple of different varieties in stock. I have had success with store-bought organic potatoes as well, but those needed some chitting time before planting.

If your seed is larger than 2 inches, find the eyes and cut them into smaller pieces. You need to let these dry over night before planting.

If you plant them right away, Rainbow Gardens has sulfur powder that you sprinkle on the cut sides to prevent disease before putting them in the ground.

Choose a planting spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight.

Make sure you have 12 inches of soil, and dig a 6-inch trench. If you don’t have a lot of room or are a balcony gardener, you can always plant these in a grow bag or large breathable pot. If you use a pot, make sure to use rich-in-nutrient soil.

FoxFarm’s Happy Frog makes a great blend. Plant each potato seed 10-12 inches apart if you have the space. If you are tight on space, at least 7-to-9 inches apart works as well.

It’s important to plant the eyes (also known as little sprouts) of the potato seeds facing up toward the sky. If they fall over, it’s not the end of the world, but you’re more likely to be successful if the eyes are planted facing up.

Cover your seeds with 2-3 inches of soil. In about two weeks you can add organic fertilizer like, Sul-Po-Mag. Rainbow Gardens carries it. Make sure to water at least 1 inch of water a week. That means at least one very deep watering a week.

When your shoots are 4-6 inches, cover the tuber up with more soil, and as it grows, continue to hill soil around it so the tuber is never exposed. Your potatoes should be ready to harvest in 2-4 months. Your shoots will eventually flower, that is a good sign. Once the foliage starts to yellow and brown, it’s time to harvest your potatoes. I like to wait at least a week once it turns yellow to pull them up.

About the Authors

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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