All my Potatoes are Chitting!! What to do?

As someone who’s relatively new to the world of gardening, I recently encountered a challenge that I suspect many of you might relate to. While preparing for a festive Christmas dinner, I discovered that my stored white potatoes had started sprouting – a process known as chitting. Today, I want to share my journey through this unexpected gardening hiccup and the invaluable advice I received from experienced gardeners on a forum.

The Surprising Discovery

It all started on Christmas morning. I went to my cool, dark garage attic, where I had stored my harvested potatoes in a milk crate, only to find that 95% of them had begun chitting, with some sprouts reaching up to three inches! At first, I was at a loss about what to do, considering it was too cold to plant them outside, and I didn’t have enough space indoors for pots under grow lights.

Seeking Advice

In search of answers, I turned to a gardening forum. One of the first to respond was a user named Meadowlark from East Texas. Meadowlark, a seasoned gardener, shared, “That’s normal for potatoes. The best thing to do would have been to plant some (or all) of those back in September. You would be having another crop about now.”

Meadowlark further explained his own successful cycle of planting and harvesting potatoes, emphasizing the importance of replanting the spring crop in September for a winter harvest. This cycle, according to Meadowlark, ensures a continuous year-round supply of home-grown new potatoes.

A Ray of Hope: Greenhouse Solution

I mentioned having built a DIY greenhouse, albeit one that I couldn’t keep very warm. Meadowlark advised that potatoes don’t necessarily need warmth but just protection from frost and freezing temperatures, which can reduce production. Inspired by this, I decided to plant the chitting potatoes in pots within my greenhouse.

Diverse Perspectives

Another gardener, Mike Allen from the UK, shared his method, focusing on planting potatoes as soon as they begin chitting, regardless of conventional planting times. His technique involves digging rows and setting the tuber on a compost layer, which is then covered by the next row of digging.

Implementing the Advice

Encouraged by these suggestions, I potted the sprouting potatoes and placed them in the greenhouse. To add an extra layer of protection against the cold, I decided to cover them with a blanket when temperatures dropped below 35 degrees at night.

Final Thoughts

This experience taught me the importance of community and shared knowledge in gardening. Thanks to the advice from Meadowlark, Mike Allen, and others in the gardening community, I found a solution that worked for me. As Oliver Buckle, another forum member, suggested, I’m also considering insulating my greenhouse with bubble wrap for better heat retention.

Gardening is indeed a journey of learning and adaptation. I hope sharing my experience helps others who might face the same issue with chitting potatoes. Remember, every challenge in the garden is an opportunity to grow, not just our plants but also our knowledge and skills.

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