Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Chitting Nicely

It won't be long now until I plant my first early potatoes. I've decided that this year all the earlies will go in containers which will free up more space at the allotment for maincrop potatoes. The other advantage of using containers rather than the ground is that I don't have to wait for the ground to warm up, though I will have to make sure that they are kept free of any frost we have. As you can see, there are some great sprouts on the tubers already. Apparently, if you rub off all but two or three of the sprouts you will get larger potatoes, but I always leave all the sprouts on as I don't mind smaller potatoes.

I sowed my leeks - Musselburgh and peas - Hurst Green Shaft on Saturday. I've always sown my peas in toilet roll inners in the past but this time I've sown them in modules. I didn't have as much success last year with things which were sown in the toilet roll inners so I'm not using them at all this year. Once the ground has warmed up I want to sow some peas direct, something which I haven't done before.

The Goldfinches are back. I haven't seen any for ages but I saw a pair on Monday. I just wish I saw them more regularly than I do at the moment, they're such lovely little birds. We've also got some Coal Tits visiting the feeders, another colourful little bird.


  1. I love goldfinches too, I'm lucky as there are quite a few round here. Don't think I have any coal tits though. Your chits look lovely and strong.

  2. I shall be planting my first potatoes, and onions, in the next week or so.
    Lucky you with the goldfinches as I rarely ever see any! Flighty xx

  3. Re the lack of success with growing seedlings in toilet-roll inners - I have heard that they maybe use chemicals in the cardboard which our plants don't like.
    My garden has seen a lot more Goldfinches recently - many more than I have seen in previous years. We often see a group of about 7 or 8 at once. I love them; they are good-looking birds and very energetic.

  4. Nice Chit work :) hope they turn out lovely for you. I'm planning on using the toilet roll method for my parsnips. Might do half and half to see how each fair.

  5. Spring always makes me want to play in the garden. We are working on the big stuff this year. We got rid of some unsigtly bushes and a lot of brush and weeds. Now we are looking at ways to keep it from coming back.
    I like small potatoes best.

  6. Looking good Jo.
    I rubbed the chits off mine last year, and got some pretty good spuds, but this year i haven't done it to see if there is any difference.
    Do the toilet rolls sometimes have bleach in the card?? I'm sure somebody told me that once.
    Goldfinches are lovely.. we get the odd one at home.. they seem to love the nyger seed feeder!

  7. Looks like those spuds are more than ready, strictly speaking you dont need to chit, Ive tried chitted and unchitted over the years with perfect results either way My earlies went in last weekend and I also put in a couple of rows of broad beans. I was going to use toilet roll this year that is until I herd the controversy over recycled cardboard for cerial packets and alike possibly leaching trace chemical, as most of it is made from newspaper meaning the ink causes the problem, I dont want that in my food! On the bird front Im seeing lots of Goldfinch, Blue, Great, long tailed and Coal tits this year, and the bird song at dawn and dusk is wounderful. Happy gardening.

  8. We have had lots of goldginches lately.

    As for peas we have found that ours never do as well when transplanted they seem to prefer to be sown directly in the ground which we can't do just yet!

  9. Meant goldfinches - not a new bird species

  10. Looking good :)
    We have some earlies in the ground in the polytunnel for extra-earlies, hopefully.
    The past couple of years we've sown peas in guttering, then slid them into their beds.
    However, we do use toilet roll holders for beans and have had no problems.

  11. I hadn't seen any goldfinches here until last year, Su. I do catch sight of them every so often now but I wish they would visit more regularly.

    I haven't bought my onions yet, Flighty. I've got shallots planted in modules though which will be going out soon.

    I used toilet roll inners without any problems until last year, Mark. I always thought they were great for starting off seeds but last year I had quite a lot of failures so I'm not chancing it this year. I've never seen a group of goldfinches at once, they usually visit in pairs.

    I think a trial sounds good, Chef. I've used toilet roll inners for parsnips with mixed success, last year they failed but the year before that they were great.

    It's hard work doing the big jobs, Kat, but even harder to keep up to them. I prefer smaller potatoes too, with lots of melted butter.

    I've never rubbed the chits off my potatoes, Simon, but I do like small potatoes, especially earlies. I'm not sure what's in the toilet roll inners, but I've had mixed success with them. I'm not using them at all this year after the failures last year though.

    I've had to chit my potatoes, James, as they were bought very early. They say that it's best to chit earlies to get them going as they're in the ground such a short time, whereas it doesn't really matter with maincrop which take longer to grow anyway. It sounds like you've got a lovely mixture of birds in the garden. We don't seem to get such a variety here.

    I've never sown peas direct, Sue, but I'm definitely going to give it a go this year. It will be interesting to see the difference. I realised your slip of the finger, the f and g is too close together.

    I've used toilet roll inners many times without any problem, Mo. Last year was the exception and quite a few things didn't like it so I'm not going to chance it this year. You should get some very early potatoes with them growing in the polytunnel, it will be interesting to see how much earlier they're ready.

  12. Oooh not heard the rubbing off the chits thing before... May do a test with half of my main crop spuds this year and see what happens.... :)

  13. I sowed my peas straight into one of the raised beds last year and they did really well Jo, one of my few successes!

    The chits look good and strong on those potatoes.


  14. Am having a little container-grown potato crop myself this year. My allotment partner loves planting potatoes on the plot so have gone for some new pots just on the patio to save some space and grow a few extra varieties. I like the fact that it's easier to harvest small quantities too.

  15. Your spuds are looking good Jo. I am debating when to get them in the ground. Can't remember when I planted them last year. First lot of peas in and leeks later today. We used to see quite a number of goldfinches when we first moved here but a rare visitor now :(

  16. My pots are going in the ground in the next few days. Am now worried about the loo roll thing - I've always used them for beans and peas as well as sweet peas etc. Ah well, I'm not dead yet...

  17. My little goldfinch seems to have disappeared but quite a few great tit. I may stick with container potatoes this year too, not sure yet. So many decisions!

  18. Mine are chitting nicely too!

  19. Interesting about your toilet roll inners not being successful. I didn't get on well with mine - they went mouldy or dried out too much, so after one experiment I won't use them again.

  20. Interesting to hear all the comments re loo rolls - i have been horading them for a while now with the peas and beans in mind but dont like the idea of the chemicals and as they dont seem to really be successful i shall just recyle them i think - clear out some space in my green house anyhow!
    Thanks for your comment on my post Jo - you are completley right of course! But just for a minute its nice to dream of being somewhere else!
    have a great day!

  21. It will be interesting to see if it makes any difference, Paul. I've heard it mantioned on programmes as well as read it in books so I think there must be something in it.

    I think peas prefer being sown direct, Jeanne. I'm doing some of each this year.

    Another advantage of growing in containers is that the potatoes are always free of damage, Projectforty. I've always had a decent crop too, though I know others who haven't.

    It's traditional to plant potatoes on Good Friday, Anna, though Easter is rather late this year so I don't think there'll be many who wait until then. What a shame about the goldfinches. I wonder what made them leave.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the loo rolls, Janet. I've always used them in the past and would be still if it wasn't for the fact that the plants in them didn't do very well last year. It might just be coincidence though as they've always done ok in previous years.

    I love seeing different birds visiting the garden, Kelli. There's so many decisions to make at this time of year.

    Glad to hear that your's are doing well too, Denise. It will be planting time before we know it.

    I know quite a few people have problems with mould on their toilet roll inners, Linda, but I never had that problem. I was always happy using them until last year when many things which had been planted in them were unsuccessful.

    Toilet roll inners can be added to the compost if you don't want to use them to plant in, Gill. It's a shame that I didn't get on with them last year as they've saved me a fortune over the years and are ideal for plants which need a deep root run. It is nice to dream of being elsewhere. My hubby's auntie and uncle are on a Carribean cruise at the moment, I wouldn't have minded jumping in their suitcase.

  22. I have a very small garden plot - 2.5 m x 2 m so am limited as to what I can grow but I've started off peppers, tomatos and chillis in my greenhouses and have sown a few herbs so far. I'm no expert grower by any means and this will be my first year of "doing it properly" after years of container growing and I'm very excited at the prospect. It's through reading blogs such as your own that's giving me the information and confidence to branch out and really get to grips with my growing! :)

  23. I too started off by growing in containers, Butterfly Bush Diaries. I think once you get taken by the bug you soon run out of space though. This will be my third year of growing on the allotment and I'm still enjoying it more than ever.


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