Harvesting Second Early Maris Peer Potatoes

The time has come to harvest the second early Maris Peer potatoes I chitted way back in March and planted out in April.

I bought the seed potatoes from Wilko and chitted them on the kitchen windowsill for several weeks before planting them in 42L grow bags (also from Wilko).

What is chitting?

Chitting is the process of letting seed potatoes sprout before planting them out. You’ll have seen this happen to supermarket potatoes when you leave them in the cupboard for too long – they’ll eventually start sprouting what look like new roots.

Ideally, though, you want short, stubby roots rather than the long, fleshy ones you get when potatoes are left in the dark for too long.

How to chit potatoes

To chit potatoes, simply place one seed potato rose end up in each cell of an egg box or seed tray and leave somewhere light like a windowsill, greenhouse or potting shed. You’ll want to avoid frost and to err on the side of caution, I’d avoid very cold temperatures as well.

What is the ‘rose end’?

It’s the end of the potato that has what looks like several eyes in a small cluster. The opposite end has a single scar that was attached to the originating seed potato. This should be at the bottom.

The chitting process can take several weeks depending on the location of the seed potatoes. I started chitting my potatoes in early March and planted them into the grow bags in early April.

I sowed four seed potatoes in each bag using the following process:

  • Add around four inches of potato compost to the bottom of the grow bag
  • Place the potatoes firmly onto the compost allowing enough space for growth
  • Cover them with another four inches of the same compost
  • Water

The idea is to let the plant grow so there’s about four inches of growth above the surface of the compost, then add more compost so the upper leaves are just visible. This replicates the process of earthing up when you sow potatoes outdoors.

I didn’t do this enough!

And for this reason, I think my crop was smaller than it could have been. But this is my first year growing potatoes so it’s all part of the learning curve.

Attacked by frost

I planted the potatoes in the grow bags at home around the start of April and moved them to the allotment towards the end of the same month. Sadly, we were hit by a slight frost a couple of days after moving them.

I asked for advice from one of the other plot holders, Sue, and she advised me to cut off the frosted parts and leave them to grow.

So I did.

By the middle of July they were looking like they were ready to harvest.

So I did. And here are the results from the three grow bags in the photo.

I don’t know if this is a good yield or not, but they taste yummy with plenty of butter, a pinch of salt and some black pepper.

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