Everybody wants to grow the best beetroot, the dark red fruit which is famed for its use in salads, but offers far more in the way of versatility than just boiling and slicing and serving with lettuce leaves.
Beetroot is a fantastic crop that is also beginning to gain the reputation as a superfood. It is claimed that it can lower blood pressure and prevent dementia, and is also good for digestive problems.
A healthy reputation is not new to this bold vegetable, as the root has been used in historical medicines to treat fever and constipation, whilst the leaves were traditionally used as the edible vegetable.
How To Grow Beetroot:
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Beetroot is pretty unfussy about the soil, and as long as there are sufficient nutrients and the soil is free draining and not too acid, you should have no trouble growing beetroot.
In a good rotation plan, the root crops follow the alliums and cucurbits. These groups include vegetable plants like pumpkins and courgettes which can demand a lot from the soil, and as the roots include the potato, which is another hungry crop, we do tend to manure this part of the garden quite heavily.
This means that there is never an issue with nutrients and drainage, but there could be an issue with acidity, so it is definitely worth checking, and if needs be, addressing the problem with a light treatment of lime.
Beetroot seeds are a little unusual as they come in clusters, so there is always a need to thin out seedlings as they grow, that is, unless you buy monogerm type seeds.
Sow seeds directly, at a depth of about 3cm, in rows 30cm apart, and then thin to a spacing of 10cm.
Traditional varieties of beetroot did tend to develop white rings inside, and would often bolt, these days, neither of these problems are that common.
But do not think that you are limited to just red globed beetroot as you can now get yellows and whites as well as cylindrical shaped beetroot.
Beetroot is a trouble free vegetable that does not have any particular pest or disease. The only thing that is worth noting is that the plant can get a bit woody if allowed to dry or if they are left too long, and in a prolonged wet season they can attract a bit of mildew.
Pretty much, as long as the soil is free draining, the plant is watered in dry spells and kept weed free, you should have no problems.
Harvesting beetroot is very easy, simply pull the root when it is golf ball sized. You can also pick young leaves that make a good addition to mixed salad leaves.
As we have said, don’t just think beetroot is to be boiled, cooled and sliced with salad, as it is much more versatile.
Beetroot makes a great soup, going particularly well with parsnip in a beetroot and parsnip soup, or standing well alone as a creamy beetroot soup.
it can also be used in main courses with smoked dishes, steaks, burgers and risottos.
Beetroot is fantastic in winter tarts, or as a roasted veg, also as a dip, a chutney and a relish. It makes a great detox smoothy, and can be mixed with mash potatoes or pasta to accompany a wide variety of dishes.
Beetroot can also be used in baking, making great muffins, cupcakes, sweet pies and steamed puddings, it even makes a great wine!