Chit! Have you chitted? Are you chitting? Potatoes, that is!
Lovely word. Chitting.
I have always wondered where this word came from. Google, Wikipedia, World Book Dictionary, World Wide Web … are not telling me much.
Greenspouting. Preparing seeds for faster germination.
Since its spring and time to plant potatoes, let’s focus on chitting potatoes.
Potato eyes will sprout in total darkness in late winter, early spring. It seems this schedule is built into the potato. There is no amount of blackout that will prevent the sprouting. (We refuse to talk about chemical treatments that prevent sprouting). But sprouts grown in the dark are long, gangly, and white. These sprouts depend on the nutrients and life force in the potato, eventually making the potato inedible.
(It was Mother’s job as a child to go through the family harvest of potatoes in the winter and remove the sprouts. “Once in a while, I would accidently poke my finger into a rotting potato. The smell was so awful…nothing smells as bad as a rotting potato …and I probably had a rotting tooth as my dad didn’t believe in fixing teeth … and that rotting potato smell seemed to be the same as the rotting taste of a rotten tooth …To this day I can hardly eat potatoes, especially when the chef misses any pits or dark spots while peeling. Potatoes need to be snow white. And I don’t like potatoes in soup, either.” Poor Mother!)
When seed potatoes are exposed to light, indirect light, the eyes begin to sprout. The skin will green up. The potato has been stimulated to begin growing.
Cut large potatoes into pieces about the size of a chicken egg. Try not to break the little sprouts. Each piece needs two or three eyes.
(Mother told very few jokes but one of her favorites was: Did you know you are supposed to wrap each potato in newspaper before you plant it?
Gleefully, she would exclaim, “So it doesn’t get dirt in its eyes!” And then giggle!!!!)
And do we plant potatoes on Good Friday? No. According to the Biodynamic calendar, Good Friday and the whole Easter weekend is a blackout period. We do not work in the greenhouse or gardens other than watering.
Can potatoes be planted too early? Yes, the tender shoots will freeze. The original potato piece will send up new shoots but the plant has been set back several weeks. At Seedtime, we try to be patient and plant a little later. We may not have the earliest potatoes at Market, but we’ll have the most energetic and delicious potatoes at Market. 🙂
Alissa & Nathan Van Zweden, Alissa’s Flowers
Falls Park Farmers Market, Sioux Falls:
May 3 to October 25
Saturdays 8 am-1 pm