Potato seed is chitting.
Chitting is the controlled production of sprouts on seed potatoes before planting.
But the controlled production of sprouts is the key. The length & strength of the sprout must be controlled to give a short (1.5-2.5cm (0.5-1in) long), stubby, green chit.
The 3 factors involved in chitting are:
- temperature – 4 degrees Celsius is ideal, but the temperature should not go above 10 degrees, neither should it reach freezing.
- ventilation – plenty of fresh air
- light – plenty of light – but not bright sunlight – a north facing window is best
Early and late-main crop potatoes could especially benefit from the chitting , but it must be done properly.
The term Broccoli is a bit of a minefield and misunderstanding often occurs because supermarkets, seedsman and farmers use different names for the same thing.
Broccoli is Italian for little branches.
- Calabrese is the type of broccoli which has the little branches as one large head.
This is sold in the supermarkets as broccoli but is known as Calabrese to the seedsmen.
Calabrese originally came from Calabria in Southern Italy.
- Sprouting broccoli has lots of shoots instead of one big flower.
If you ask a seedsman for broccoli he will probably give you sprouting broccoli, which is sold in supermarkets as purple (or white) sprouting broccoli.
spear sprouting broccoli
Sprouting broccoli has a very short season in early spring.
Pick the sprouting broccoli spears:
- just before the flower buds open
- when young, so very tender & not stringy
early sprouting rudolph
- leaving some stem on the plant, so that the buds will produce more spears – cut & come again!
The central head on the sprouting broccoli plant will be larger than the side shoots, but not as big as the standard broccoli sold in the shops. This is actually calabrese – quite different from sprouting broccoli harvested in the early spring.
Cut the large central head out before the flower buds open, when still tender. Cutting out the central head will encourage the side shoots to develop.
Pick sprouting broccoli every few days to make sure the shoots are young and tender. It is often difficult to see the sprouts in amongst the leaves, particularly the purple sprouts, but white sprouting broccoli is easier to see and pick!
Gill has grown some purple sprouting broccoli in her new raised bed.
This is the first season that Gill has grown veg & she says that she will not grow broccoli again because it takes up so much room and stays in the bed for a long time (from April till March – a full year!).
Gill has 3 raised beds, so she plans to grow vegetables which have:
- a short growing season – like radish, french beans
- a compact habit – like carrots
This way she will produce more vegetables for the kitchen. She feels that broccoli has taken up valuable space & has not produced much yield – as she could only fit about 4 plants in , together with a few cabbage.
BUT, Gill has not tasted the broccoli yet. It is such a treat to be able to pick fresh veg from the garden at this time of the year. The broccoli in the photo was picked this afternoon – so will Gill change her mind once she has tasted her purple sprouting broccoli from her raised beds?