A super food! Beetroot is a naturally sweet and nutritious root vegetable. It stores energy as sugar in its roots; if the plant completes its life cycle this stored sugar would be used to make the flowers and seeds.
It has recently been proven that the pigment in beetroot can aid blood pressure regulation. It is officially a super-food.
Beetroot is the root vegetable most requested by the chefs at Steff’s Kitchen. It is one of our main crops in Patrick’s Patch and we aim for a continuous supply between June and November.
Why not grow a mixture of three or four different coloured varieties? Mr Fothergill offer colourful varieties. We like: ‘Burpees Golden’, ‘Chioggia’ (stripy), ‘Red Ace F1’. ‘Boltardy’ is a very reliable variety which can be sown early.
We sow three batches of beetroot in late February, early May and early June.
We sow the February batch in module trays in our unheated polytunnel. This gives a head start as the ground is not sufficiently warm enough for direct sowing.
Sow one seed per module, but be prepared that more than one seedling may emerge in each module. Beetroot seeds are actually a cluster of seeds (they are called conglomerate seed). Thin out the trays to one plant per module to get stronger plants. This first batch of seedlings are ready to plant out in mid April. From April beetroot seed can be directly sown on the plot.
Tip – cover newly transplanted or emerging seedlings with horticultural fleece for a fortnight, whilst they establish.
Plant in rows 30cm (1ft) apart. We plant 15cm apart for medium sized beetroot.
In the warm summer months it is important to not let beetroot plants dry out. If they experience dry conditions the plants are likely to ‘bolt’ which means go to seed. Mulching between the rows with a light organic compost helps to retain moisture.
Tip – liquid feed establishes plants with Maxicrop Plant Growth Stimulant. This product is particularly effective on leafy vegetables.
Did you know that you can eat beetroot leaves as well as the roots. Best enjoyed when young and lightly steamed. Young leaves can also be added to salads – the variety ‘Bull’s Blood’ has bright red young leaves.
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