GROWING THE PERFECT BEETROOT

Beetroot can be boiled and preserved in vinegar to eat as a salad/ or eaten hot as an alternative to other root vegetables. The leaves can be boiled and eaten like spinach.

VARIETIES

Red Varieties

Boltardy

Ideal for early sowing. Bolt-resistant (I.e. it does not run to seed before making its root food store.)

‘Detroit

A standard main cropper. Renowned for its flavour, colour and good storage qualities.

‘Detroit Little Ball’

Ideal choice for late sowing. Produces baby beets which are excellent for pickling.

Yellow Variety

‘Burpee’s Golden’

Orange skin and yellow flesh

White Variety

Albina Vereduna.’. . Sometimes – sold as ‘Snow White’

Cylindrical Variety

Cylindra’

An oval beet. Deep red flesh.

Long Varieties (apparently popular in the London area)

‘Cheltenham Green Top’

Long variety, stores well.

Long Blood Red’

A medium-sized variety. Deep red flesh

Soil

Beetroot should not be sown on freshly-manured ground. If the soil is poor, apply a general fertiliser at a rate of 100g/sq.m (3 oz/sq.yd). Beetroot thrives on warm, light soils.

Seed Sowing

Sow the seeds in drills in March/April to provide early roots in the summer. . Sow long-type beets in May and June for storage. The seed should be sown 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep with 30 cm (12 inch) between the rows.

Routine Work

When the first rough leaf appears, thin the seedlings to

5 cm (2 inch). Thin again until the final distance between

plants is 4 (10 cm). Hoe occasionally.

Harvesting

Pull the early sowings as required as soon as they are large enough for eating. The roots grown for storage should be lifted with a fork in October, rejecting any damaged or pest-infected roots. Twist off the tops and shake the soil from the roots. Store in boxes of either sand or peat in a rodent and frost-proof shed. Beetroot can also be stored in a clamp.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Beetroot is an easy crop to grow, and is generally pest-free. Flea beetle and drought at germination are potential problems. An insecticidal seed dressing may give effective protection from flea beetle in the early stages.

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