Posted on 09 February 2013 by

The Simple Pleasures of Growing Beets


Photo Credit: Beat Generation by Steve Mohundro used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was reading an article about the “new superfood.”

This superfood is neither spinach nor kale but instead a beautiful burgundy globe of nutritional delight.

With the most fanfare possible that can be drummed up for a vegetable, I would like to introduce you to the beat and not the beat you are hearing on the radio right now but instead the dual-purpose root vegetable loving called the beet.

Beets have a duality that many people are not aware of. First, young beets or beet sprouts can be enjoyed on salads way before they begin to form their lovely globe-shaped roots. This is a great use for those plucked seedling that you do not know what to do with when you thin out the crop.

Beyond sprouts, the beet’s harvest can consist of the greens or leaves above the root and/or the root itself. I have had many salads that combined sautéed beet greens with roasted beet roots.

Now that we have the base uses for beets, lets learn how to plant them. Beets are very simple to grow and should be planted in the ground as soon as spring arrives in your area. Plant 12 to 15 seeds per foot. In about two weeks, little green spots will begin to appear. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to grasp, thin them out so that they are spaced two to three inches apart.

Once that is done, all you have to do is wait. In about eight weeks, you will have beets large enough to harvest, depending on the variety.

To keep the beets sweet, monitor soil moisture. Beets become bitter when they are exposed to water stress.

In the winter, beets can stay in the ground. They can tolerate temperatures that dip down into the 20s. If your area gets colder then that, there is a simple solution and that is to remove them from the garden. If you use this approach, do not wash them off. Instead, place them, including the leaves and roots, inside a mesh bag. The bag can then be stored in a root cellar or unheated garage until you need them. You will be surprised how long they keep this way.

Well, now that I have planted my beets I am going to go back to that article. I think I am going to try that breakfast smoothie that was mentioned when my beets come up. While I am sure it is going to be delicious and very nutritious, I do not know if I can get my husband to take a walk on the beet side. Well, maybe if I tell him the smoothie is called “as the beet goes on.”

So until we blog again, if you are looking for a simple, budget friendly vegetable that is very diverse and a new superfood, then consider the world of beets.

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