Chitting: Should You? Shouldn’t You?

It’s that time of year when the debate rages about chitting potatoes. The year is bookmarked by two arguments in the rural world: the potato argument and the stacking wood argument. This runs along the lines of (a) you’re wrong, I’m right, and; (b) If you tell me I am doing it wrong one more time I will hit you with a large potato or a piece of tree. In terms of violence you want to be in the spring argument with the potatoes because at least if you catch it, you’ll have chips for tea rather than splinters.

Potatoes

Chitting is the time honoured technique of placing your potatoes in a tray or egg box, somewhere that is not in direct sunlight. Remember, potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are in the same family as deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). That family is Solanaceae, this family includes aubergine, tobacco, tomato, and petunia. The green bits on spuds are a direct chemical reaction to sunlight, it's chlorophyll; though chlorophyll contains iron and magnesium which benefits our bodies, this reaction also produces Solanine within the potato. This is a nasty glycoalkaloid poison that gives deadly nightshade its fear factor but it can also be found in aubergines (Solanum melongena)tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), and petunias in differing quantities. To cause any problems though you would have to eat large quantities of spuds to get such symptoms as diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches and dizziness. More than likely someone then has poisoned you with deadly nightshade. Back to chitting, which is the forcing of potatoes to get tiny stubby shoots, you can then rub off the weaker shoots leaving 2-3 per potato. The idea behind it is that you get larger yields. Therein lies the argument, those who say, (a) yes, it works, and; (b) those who call those in the (a) bracket loopy idiots who dance naked beneath a full moon daubed in wode (Isatis tinctoria). We are in the (a) bracket because chitting actually does work, not maybe for yields but for the satisfaction of knowing that the seed potato is sprouting. The simple fact is when you put them in open ground unchitted you don’t know if  they’ve been eaten by slugs or wire worm when they don’t sprout above ground. Putting them in chitted, means you knew they were growing when they went in. And, yes you get higher yields and we stack our wood like this...

Wood pile


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