How to grow Beets and eat them too
Easy-to-grow beets can be eaten from the leaf as from the root. Tasty for baking, boiling or sautéing and fresh greens to boil or steam. Plant them early for top quality and best flavor. (Fluctuating weather can reduce quality and create white zone rings in the roots.) Some varieties have red stems and venation in the leaves, making them a natural for edible landscaping.
Latin name: Beta vulgaris
Varieties: Boltardy, Bull’s Blood, Burpee Golden, Chiogga, Crimson Globe, Crosby Egyptian, Cylindra, Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder Tall Top, Green Top Bunching, Ruby Queen
How to sow: seeds 1”/ 2.5 cm apart, seedlings 3” to 4”/ 7.5cm to 10 cm apart
Soil preferences: Prefers well-drained sandy loam to silt loam soil, high in organic matter, with pH between 6.5 and 7 and free of large stones.
How to plant: Direct seeding in the garden is the easiest way to grow beets. Soak seeds in water for 24 hours before planting to aid germination. Plant in early spring, as soon as you can work the soil, ¾ inch (2 cm) deep and 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart in rows 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) apart, 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost for an early summer crop. For continuous harvest, make successive plantings every three weeks until midsummer. For winter storage, sow crop about 10 weeks before the frost sets in.
Begin thinning when seedlings are about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) tall, and eat the ones you’ve cut off. Cut rather than pull plants when thinning to avoid disturbing roots of other plants. Be ruthless: Crowded roots will not develop properly. Besides, the juice young leaves will be good taste in salads.
Good soil structure is important because growth is improved by good soil aeration. Beets grow poorly in acid soil. They tolerate low fertility but require consistent moisture. Do not plant in soils with pH less than 6.0.
Beets use boron inefficiently. Boron is less available in soils with high pH and high organic matter. Corky black areas in the roots indicate boron deficiency. Biennial grown as an annual.
Some varieties have red stems and leaf venation.
Tips on how to grow and maintain:
- Some “monogerm” varieties have only one seed per fruit. Some seed companies remove seeds from the seed ball.
- Unlike most root crops, beets can be started inside or in cold frames and transplanted into the garden.
- Use floating row covers to discourage insects early in the season.
- Keep well-weeded. Competition and uneven watering can make beets stringy and tough.
- Beets are closely related to Swiss chard and spinach. Avoid following these crops in rotation.
- Beets tolerate average to low fertility. Too much nitrogen will encourage top growth at the expense of root development.
- Best color and flavor develop under cool conditions and bright sun. When beets mature in warm weather, they are lighter colored, have less sugar and have more pronounced color zoning in the roots. Fluctuating weather conditions produce white zone rings in roots.
- Beets are biennials. Normally, they produce an enlarged root during their first season. Then after overwintering they produce a flower stalk. If they experience two to three weeks of temperatures below 45 F/ 7.5C after they have formed several true leaves during their first season, a flower stalk may grow prematurely. Many newer varieties are less sensitive to this problem.
Beets shortlist for extreme success:
- Companion planting with: Brassicas, Lettuce, Onion, Sage
Do not plant together with: Field mustard, Bean (pole)
- Germination time: 5 to 8 days, 40F to 90F/4.5C to 32.5C
- Sow in: March, April, May, June
- Harvest in: July, August, September, October.
- Sunlight/Shade: Full Sun, Part Shade
- Water need: Too much gives more leaves than root, too less makes woody bulbs.
- Days to harvest: 50 to 55
- Saving seeds/multiply catch seeds in second year.
- Nutrition values: Foliate, vitamin c
- Other health claims
Here 2 great recipes for beets from the Stonesoup.com
Warm salad of roast beets lentils balsamic onions recipe.
And for baby beets