According to my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary ‘Chit’ comes from Middle English chithe, to shoot or sprout, corresponding to the Old Saxon kith. So the word has roots (sorry) that go back 1200 years or so. Certainly, it wasn’t a new concept even then.
Chitting is a form of ‘pre-sprouting’ of seeds before you plant them in a growth medium such as compost or soil. Most gardeners are familiar with doing this for ‘seed’ potatoes which are, of course, tubers.
Anyway, we first stumbled across doing this for other seeds when experiencing the normal frustrations of getting parsley to germinate in pots or in the soil. We decided to grow them on kitchen paper towels to see which ones germinated and get an idea of germination rates. We could then assess whether the seed was bad or whether the germinated seed were dying later on. To our surprise, we got nearly 100% germination. Here’s a box of chitted basil seeds 12 days after ‘sowing’.
What’s cool about chitting is that you can see what’s going on and then plant into compost etc. It also avoids the need for thinning out. The downside is that the sprouted seeds are very fragile and easy to damage and you have to keep an eye out so the seeds don’t go too far. The more growth they put on the fragile roots grow into the paper which makes them difficult to get out safely: as you will see…The basil seeds above have gone a bit far.
So that’s what I did this morning, plant on chitted seeds of lettuce leaf basil, coriander and curly & flat parsley…