Gardening Blog – Chitting and Chelsea Fringe Henley


Henley Herald chitting

It’s time to chit the seed potatoes. Thanks to advice gleaned from the  Allotment Association’s planning evening, ‘First Early’ potatoes are off the menu. My new plot sits in a frost pocket and so doesn’t get enough sun early in the year. We’ll be enjoying the slightly later developing ‘Second Earlies’ from now on.

‘Maris Bard’ and ‘Charlotte’ are happily chitting away on a windowsill. This is my first time with ‘Maris Bard’ but I’m growing them on good advice.   We’ve been growing ‘Charlotte’ for years and for no other reason that we had a much-loved family pet with the same name. We’ll see whether sentiment triumphs over science when we dig them up in the summer.

Chitting is not (as I used to imagine) a complicated horticultural technique completely outside my skill set. It’s just a case of putting seed potatoes in an open and empty egg box and then leaving them somewhere cool and light. After a couple of weeks, the eyes begin to sprout and form new green shoots – ‘chits’. 

Does it improve the harvest? There’s some controversy about that. But for me, chitting marks the start of the growing season. It brings with it a mild sense of panic. I know that if I don’t get on with preparing the soil soon, everything will start springing to life and I’ll never catch up.

Now that the Chelsea Fringe is bringing its fun and inclusive horticultural magic to Henley, there’s a chance that chitting will induce another kind of mild panic. From now on, this will also be the time of year when we need to dream up an imaginative garden-related event to put on during the three weeks that the Fringe runs – 16 May to 7 June in 2015. 

If you’d like to know more about Chelsea Fringe Henley, Jane McFarlane Duckworth will be bringing us up to date during the Henley House and Garden Show – Sat 28 February at 3pm in the Town Hall Council Chamber. Alternatively check its progress and get in touch via 

In the meantime, don’t forget to sow some extra seeds ready for the Allotment Association Plant Sale on 30th May. More about that soon.