Growing Beets

February 24, 2009

Beets are very easy to grow.

A humble vegetable is the friendly beet(or beetroot as we say in England), but I hope to enthuse some of you about growing it. It’s very easy to grow.
Like carrots and other root vegetables, it’s not very fussy about garden soil – except that it doesn’t like freshly dug-in manure.
You buy a packet of seeds and find that you have what looks almost like a packet of dust, so tiny are the seeds. Some gardeners suggest mixing them with an equal quantity of dry, clean sand, partly to separate them out and also to give you a visual marker for where they have been sown.
In this case, I do recommend that you do sow them in two or three rows, so that you can see when they start to grow (as always, it is important to hoe or pull out little weeds which want to bully your chosen plantlets).
When they do begin to leaf up you must gently remove about forty percent of the plantlets – if you like mixed leafy salads the little thinnings or greens are delicious. Again when they grow bigger you should repeat the process so that finally you grow about a fifth of what you originally planted to full size.
When you want to use the full-grown beets, you can pull up as many as you want to use and twist off their green tops (don’t cut too near the actual beetroot or they will ‘bleed’ when cooking and lose a lot of their colour).
Boil gently for ten to fifteen minutes then, under a running, cold tap slip the skin off the root and chop or slice as you prefer.
For some reason that I have never understood, the British have always dunked them in vinegar – which completely wrecks their delicious sweet taste. Fortunately, that habit seems to be dying out and one can now buy in the market packs of fresh cooked and peeled beetroot ready to slice into salads.
If you are a seriously devoted cook you can slice beetroots finely as you would potatoes and fry them into the most delicious chips.
Easy to grow, full of vitamin B and very pleasant to eat – do try them!
Happy Horticulture