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A beetroot ready for harvesting

Growing beetroot

I must admit I'm not really a beetroot eater. As a kid I'd always throw away the beetroot from homemade and fete hamburgers. But Paula has always enjoyed the stuff so we grow it.

While most beetroots have a red bulbous root there is a lot of choices available to the gardener with different colours and shapes. We're currently growing Italian Chioggria beetroot which has concentric pink and white circles when its globe shaped root is cut open.

Growing conditions

  • Beetroot grows in almost all climatic conditions, but degenerate in quality when very hot or very cold.

  • It can be grown in either full sun or partial shade.

  • The soil should have a little lime added and preferably been manured the previous season.

  • In a 4 bed rotation system beetroot is grown with carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips and other root crops.

Garden care

  • Always directly sow your beetroot seeds where they'll grow.

  • The beetroot "seed" is actually a shell with a cluster of seeds inside. This means it's very important to thin out all but the strongest seedlings leaving an inch between them. As the seedlings develop further you'll need to halve your crop again (2 inches between beets). It breaks your heart at the time but it's worth it in the long run.

  • Keep the water up to them otherwise your beetroot could taste a bit woody.

Harvest time

  • Beetroot is usually ready in around 3 or 4 months. Lift it from the ground, being careful not to damage the root, and twist off the leaves. If you don't do this the leaves will draw water out of the root which will dry it out.

  • Some people eat beetroot leaves. But remember they contain oxalic acid, which some people can have a nasty reaction to, so think first before adding beetroot leaves to salads.


Last Updated 17 November, 2008

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