Growing Red Beet aka Beetroot

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Beetroot or Red Beet is also known by many other common names such as the table beet, garden beet, dinner beet or golden beet. It is the taproot portion of a beet plant one of several cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris which is grown for their edible taproots and leaves (called beet greens). Besides being used as a food, beets have uses as a food colouring and as a medicinal plant. It’s also really easy and satisfying to grow so are a great plant for gardening with kids!

Red Beet is a biennial plant which forms a thick, fleshy root during the first season, and the following year produces seed on stems from three to four feet high. Beet is useful as a kitchen vegetable, as a salad or as a pickle, both raw and boiled. The leaves also form a beautiful garnish.

How to grow Red Beet

Beet, in common with all root crops, does best in a deep, rich, sandy loam and ground which has been manured for a preceding crop should, if possible, be used for its cultivation. Beet is indigenous to sea shores and grows well on brackish soil. Where the ideal conditions for root crops are not available, work the land at least two spits deep and if manure is necessary, use well-decayed stable or cow manure, or Bone Dust and Superphophate mixed and bury it at least 15 inches below the surface. The land must be worked deeply as shallow land causes forking or the formation of rootlets on the fleshy part of the roots. Fresh natural manure must not be used on any account. Burying manure well below the surface causes the tap roots to descend more rapidly and prevents forking. Seed of the Round or Turnip-shaped Beets may be sown from Spring for an early crop to the end of Summer, and of the Long varieties, from the first week in Summer till the first week in Autumn.

When the plants have four leaves, chop out with the hoe, leaving little clumps 9 in. apart. When the plants have grown bigger, in about a fortnight’s time, single them out. Pull the beet for eating when they are about 3 in. in diameter. If allowed to grow too large they will be coarse and stringy, and unfit for the kitchen.

For the Home Garden, the Round or Turnip-shaped Beet is much more convenient than the Long variety, and where the soil is shallow the former only should be sown. It matures more quickly and the roots are ready to dig in about three months under fair average conditions. On account of its quick maturing qualities, the Round variety is better for late planting. Long varieties of Beet take about four months to mature. Sow the seed thinly in rows 15 inches apart for the Long varieties, and 12 inches apart for the Round sorts. For home requirements, thin out the Long varieties to four inches, and the Round sorts to three inches apart in the rows. After sowing, walk over the rows to flip the soil and to bring it into direct contact with the seed. Where good large specimens are required thin out further apart. When thinning out be careful to “single” the plants, as generally two grow from the same seed vessel. The only cultivation necessary is to keep the surface loose and free from weeds. Late sowings of Beet can be left in the ground and dug as required during the Winter, right up till summer after this the seed head begin to appear and the plant will run up to seed about the middle or end of September.

When hoeing between the rows care should be taken not to cut or injure the sides of the roots, and this same precaution must be taken when lifting out of the ground, as a wound or broken root allows the sap to escape and the color of the Beet is thereby lost.

In taking up, be careful not to break the roots, or they will bleed and lose colour when cooking. Very useful to have available in winter when other homegrown vegetables are scarce.

Beneficial Beetroot: the benefits of beetroot are huge!

The root bulb is most often consumed, while the red beet and golden beets are easiest to find in the shops. The nutritional benefits are extraordinary, especially from B vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the bulb. They are also loaded with nitrates which help to lower blood pressure and boost endurance performance for athletes.

Beetroot is in the same family as silver beet and their leaves can be harvested in a similar way: They’re fantastic for tossing in salads, quick pickling, or making into fritters. We roast several at once by wrapping them in foil and tucking them into the oven to cook alongside potatoes, bread, or whatever else we might be cooking.

Reed Beet Varieties

The best of the Long varieties are Blood Red, Covent Garden and Dell’s Black-leaved. Of the Round or turnip-shaped sorts, Crimson Globe, Eclipse, and Egyptian Turnip-rooted are the most suitable for the Home Garden.

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