How to grow Beetroot in the Garden
Not just a Summer Salad Plant
It's a pity that many people's idea of Beetroot is that of a Vegetable soaked in Vinegar, sold in Jars at the Supermarket and just used for Summer Salads. This 'recipe' is perhaps why it's not such a popular supplement to our Diet.
Beetroot on it's it's own or roast for a good Sunday Lunch is a delight and the best thing of all is they're very easy to grow in almost any conditions.
Very little soil preparation is required if a good well dug Compost is present. I grow some of mine inbetween the Runner Bean poles and it's there I've had the most success. By the time the Beetroot is well developed, the Runner Beans aren't quite at full growth so ample sunshine is getting through to them.
When the shade takes over this seems to allow them to naturally slow down and comparing to those in open ground, they last well still in the soil.
Boltardy is probably the best and easiest to grow. As the name suggests, they don't bolt so you avoid having to harvest all at the same time.
Most varieties are sown from mid March onwards. The drills should be about 1 deep and if sown in rows, these should be 15" apart. Personally I avoid rows and sow them randomly between other Vegetables such as Lettuce and Onions.
It should be remembered that one seed isn't one plant, they develop into clumps which makes the case for thinning out when the plants are 2" tall.
Harvesting and Storing
Lift when the size you require is right, as with most things the flavour is often stronger when young. The maximum size would be about the size of a Tennis Ball.
Beetroots can be stored in boxes filled with Sand making sure they are not bruised and aren't touching each other.
They can be frozen whole if fairly small. Larger ones can be sliced or diced. For both, boil for 5 to 10 minutes, place them in a plastic bag and place in the Freezer. The recommended 'eat by' time is 6 month's.
Pests and Diseases
Beetroots are usually very strong Plants although when small and growing you may need to check they are not suffering from damp and the cold which would lead them to rotting. If so cover to dry out accordingly. Although I've never experienced it, they are prone to Blackfly attack. If so either treat with relevant Insecticide or grow some Marigolds close by.
Dates and times given may vary by Region and on the Variety chosen to grow. Please check the Seed Packets for individual guides.