||The majority of beetroot seed is normally a
cluster of three or so seeds. When you sow these
cluster seeds (see picture left) you may end up
with three seedlings which will need to be
thinned out to the healthiest one.
Much effort has been put into producing beetroot
seed which is not a cluster of seeds but just one
seed - known as a monogerm seed. These are becoming
more common nowadays.
The benefit of monogerm seed is that it requires less
thinning compared to cluster seeds but they do still require
RECOMMENDED VARIETIES OF BEETROOT FOR RAISED BEDS AND
Wodan was awarded an AGM (Award of garden Merit) in 1993
and this was confirmed in 2005. The excellent texture is
retained over a long time with excellent taste.
Solo is a monogerm which was awarded an AGM in
2005. It tastes great and the colour is deep, deep red.
Pablo matures early with a very smooth skin, great
taste and colour. It is more resistant to bolting compared
to most beetroots. Awarded an AGM in 1993 and confirmed
again in 2001 and 2005.
Globe 2 has good colour, great taste and a very
smooth skin. We like this one even though it has not been
awarded an AGM.
When selecting a seed variety read the label carefully
because beetroot come in lots of different shapes and sizes
and there are even white ones.
Note that all the advice below applies to growing
beetroot in raised bed and containers but beetroot grows
equally well in
bags which are just another form of raised bed.
WHEN TO SOW BEETROOT
Sow a few seeds at a time starting in early April through to
early June. If you can provide some shade, sowing can
continue up to early July. Don't sow all the seeds at the
same time because you will end up with a glut and beetroot
do not keep well.
HOW TO SOW BEETROOT
We always sow our beetroot seed straight from the packet and
have never had a problem. Some gardeners soak the seeds to
be sown in water for a couple of hours immediately prior to
sowing. This is said to remove the chemicals on the seed
which stops them growing.
Well, we have a packets of beetroot seeds from both
Suttons and Thompson Morgan in front of us and they make no
mention of doing this. It's up to you, soaking the seed will
not do any damage though.
Draw out a line in the soil in the raised bed about 1½cm /
½in deep and place one seed every 1½cm / ½in in the row.
Cover the seeds with soil, gently firm down with your hand
CARE OF BEETROOT
When the seedlings emerge after
10 days, thin them out to one seedling every 2½cm /
1in. After three or four weeks thin out again
gradually to 1 beetroot plant every 5cm / 2in. These
thinnings will be baby beetroot and they taste
delicious raw or lightly cooked.
The standard raised bed feeding
and watering program (see
this page) will be fine for growing beetroot.
Weed as well to reduce competition for water and
Watch out for birds pecking out the young seedlings. You
can prevent this by covering the raised bed with
horticultural fleece for a couple of weeks, by that time the
birds will ignore them.
Harvest when they are about 5cm / 2in round for tasty
and tender beetroot. If they are left in the ground much
longer they will start to go woody and lose their delicate
taste. Harvesting generally commences in July and finishes
at the end of September.
To harvest beetroot from a raised bed, grip the foliage
near to the beetroot and gently ease it out of the ground.
Some varieties may need the help of a trowel to free them
from the soil.
Cut the leaves off leaving at least 2cm / 1in still
attached. If you cut closer the beetroot may start to bleed.
This not only makes a mess with red beetroot but it also
looses moisture causing them to shrivel up. Do the same with
the root - leave at least 2cm / 1in still attached.
The leaves of beetroot are edible and very tasty in
salads, they can also be used as a substitute for spinach.
Beetroot will keep in the fridge for a couple of days but
freshly picked beetroot is truly one of life's great
delights. For longer storage, pack the beetroot in sand in a
box and store them in a cool dark place, they should keep
for a couple of months but will never taste as good as fresh
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