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Vegetables

Beetroot - Sowing, Growing and Care

 Beetroot is traditionally red and round. It need not be so, for there are long rooted types also. Add to that, the colour range is red, yellow, pink and white, and you can see that you have probably been missing something in your growing and culinary escapades.

Fortunately for me, they all share the same likes and dislikes as far as growing is concerned, so one page of beetroot will suffice.

Beetroot are normally grown in long rows in the vegetable garden, but it need not be so, for they have attractive foliage, are happy grown almost anywhere, and look at least 'interesting' when grown in ornamental areas. Beetroot are so easy to grow and germinate from seed that there is a tendency to grow far too many in one go. The result is often a row of gnarled old swollen roots, that have little resemblance to what a good beetroot is all about.

Soil requirements for beetroots are easy to satisfy. Give them a spot in the sun, and they will adapt to most soil conditions other than the heaviest of clay soils. A light non waterlogged soil is best, but they respond well to pre-manured area well.

Sowing and Growing.

Beetroot can and should be harvested in just over eight weeks after sowing. They are so easy to sow and grow that there is no excuse for not sowing a succession of seeds  - about 6 weeks apart starting March through to end of June. This will give you fresh beet from June until December.  You can even extend this cropping time, by growing some in containers earlier but in the protection of a greenhouse cold or heated.

Seed of Beetroot

The seeds conveniently come in small clusters of 4-6 individual seeds, which are sown as bought then thinned out as soon as practicable. Do not be tempted to leave the small clusters of seedling in the false hope that you will get a better crop.

The earlier sowings are best carried out under the protection of a cloche. They are quite hardy but the extra warmth afforded by the cover will give you and earlier crop. The correct distance of the individual plants is important. Do not plant them to close together. Don't overdo the sowing. Do sow the seeds  in succession.

If you want smaller beet for pickling, then ignore the advice about thinning the seedlings, and sow the clusters of seeds and allow them to develop into small clumps.

Feeding Beetroot.

Beetroot grow well as a complimentary planting with legumes of all types. The Nitrogen in the soil – produced by the Legumes - being most of the feed they will need. Other than that, a general balanced liquid feed - especially seaweed based, will suit them.

The foliage of beetroot is normally quite rich in magnesium and other trace elements, so they are good on the compost heap.

Harvesting Beetroot.

No need to dig the beetroot out of the ground, simply pull the root out. You will be pleased to see that they 'condition' the soil, which is normally left quite friable after harvest.

Foliage of beetrootAlbino BeetrootAssorted Beet Colours

After harvesting, simply twist of the foliage about 5cms from the root. Do not be tempted to cut the foliage back to the root. If you do, it will bleed some of its juices which can also leave a difficult stain to remove.

If successive sowings have been made, then the beet can be left in the soil until actually needed. But, if you simply use the single sowing regime, then if you leave the older beet in the soil, you will end up with a tough old root, which is dry and stringy - rather than moist and succulent.

Problems Growing Beetroot.

Beetroot are easy to grow, and do not have a long list of ailments.

Slugs of course like the young seedlings foliage, and are also partial to a helping of beet if they are left in the ground too long - especially the winter store!

Varieties of Beetroot to Try

Reds are from the selection of Bolthardy, Bull's Blood and Kestrel.

White Varieties. Albina or Vereduna

Yellow Types of Beetroot ... Burpees Golden

Long or Cylindrical Roots.... Cylindrica - good for slicing with uniform growth. 

By David Hughes - info@gardenseeker.com