A funny term... but so very useful. "To chit" means to presprout seeds or potatoes so they have started making a root prior to planting.
To chit peas and beans, soak the seeds in lukewarm water. In this photo, I am soaking 'old spice mix' sweet pea, 'dwarf gray' sugar pea, and scarlet runner beans in wide-mouth quart jars fitted with plastic sprouting drainage lids. Alternatively, you can attach a piece of fine-mesh, fabric-type window screen or natural unbleached cheesecloth to the mouth of the jar with a rubberband. After 6 to 8 hours, drain the water, rinse, and drain again. Set the jars at an angle in a dish draining rack to finish draining. The room temperature should be at least 65°. Gently rinse and drain the seeds twice a day. Roots will emerge in 3 to 4 days and they are ready to be planted in the ground with the root pointing down. Plant before the root grows longer than the seed.
Here is my "chitting station". A textbook in my Gardening For Good Nutrition class, an elective course I chose to take last term as I work toward earning my Bachelor's Degree in Holistic Nutrition, suggested chitting smaller seeds as well, so in the dish drainer I have jars containing lettuce mix, tatsoi, spinach, radish, and buttercrunch lettuce.
To chit cucurbits, which include melons, cucumbers, squash, gourds, and pumpkins, dip a paper towel in lukewarm water and allow excess water to drip out. Place seeds in between layers of the paper towel and slip into a plastic storage container with a lid or a sealed plastic bag and put in a warm place. I slipped a plastic bowl cover that looks like a shower cap over top of a plate. Cucurbits need a temperature of 70° to 85° to sprout, so place the seeds in a warm place. Monitor to be sure the paper towel doesn't dry out. After 3 days, check the seeds 2X/day for signs of roots emerging. Plant before the root grows longer than the seed with the root pointing down in the soil. In this photo, I am sprouting zucchini and cucumber.
To chit seed potatoes, spread them out on a tray in a brightly lit room that is not too well heated for about 6 weeks before planting to encourage shoots to emerge from the eyes. (Over time, mine sprouted left inside the bag they were shipped in from the seed company.) Prior to planting in the ground, cut the potatoes so that each chunk has two sprouts. Plant with the shoots pointing up. Note: Large potato farms use machinery to plant the potatoes, so the surfaces of the potato chunks are usually treated with fungicide so they don't rot in the ground before the sprouts emerge from the eyes. The home gardener is able to hand plant the sprouting potato so there is no need for fungicide.
Because chitted seed is already growing when it is planted, there are several advantages over planting seed directly in the ground. Seeds require moisture to germinate, so ones planted in the ground are dependent upon the gardener diligently keeping the soil moist or upon rainfall. It's easier to monitor moisture level in a jar on paper towel. Secondly, chitting allows control over germination temperature. Spring soil is slow to warm, so seeds often fail to germinate or they rot in the ground. Another advantage of chitting is that you can observe the germination before planting so that you aren't putting dead seed in your garden.