Two down and twenty-four to go in the ‘A-Z’ of our favourite homegrown fruit and veg! This was a tricky one, because there are so many lovely fruit and veg starting with ‘B’. Broccoli, broad beans, blackberries, brussel sprouts and blueberries to name just a few, but when push came to shove it was beetroot that earned its place in the allotment garden ‘A-Z’. So many different varieties, so easy to grow, so many different ways of eating it, juicing it, grating it, baking it and masses of health benefits too…
‘B’ is for the beautiful, bountiful beetroot!
We’ve grown loads of different varieties of organic beetroot over the years from the gorgeous white and pink stripes of Tondo di Chioggia to the deep blood-red of Bolivar. Boltardy is definitely worth a try (an early beetroot for planting in late-winter and harvesting in early-summer). They’re all very easy to grow and are a regular ingredient in our kitchen.
Planting: We sow our first Boltardy beetroots indoors from late-winter and continue sowing other varieties right through until mid-summer. This gives us a constant supply of fresh beets and some to store overwinter. We sow into modules which gives the seedlings a bit of a head start before planting out on the allotment and they love a rich, light soil without manure. You can also sow directly into the growing site 2.5cm deep in rows 30cm apart, from mid-spring to early-summer. Thin seedlings to 7-10cm apart.
Growing: Weed regularly. Gently hoe around the seedlings until their leaves are big enough to shade out the weeds. Keep moist.
Harvesting: You can start pulling up your beetroots around 8 weeks after planting or leave them until fully grown. Harvest before the first frosts. Twist off the leaves at least 2.5cm up the stalk to prevent ‘bleeding’ and store covered in sand in a frost-free place. You can also store by pickling and fermenting small beetroots. The leaves are edible, really tasty (a little like chard) and can be used in juicing and cooking. Young leaves are delicious eaten raw in salads.
Biodynamic tips: To make use of these tips you’ll need a biodynamic or lunar gardening calendar. More information about biodynamic gardening can be found here.
- All work is carried out on a ‘root’ day.
- Sow your seeds on a waning moon ie: sometime between full and new moon.
- Plant out on a descending moon
- Harvest on a descending moon before the first frosts for good storage.
Natural remedies: A comfrey mulch can help keep weeds at bay and the soil moist.
Recipes: There’s so much you can do with beetroot and we absolutely love juicing, grating, cooking and baking them in our kitchen. Here are some of our homegrown recipes for you to try…
Health Benefits: Known to lower blood pressure, support heart health and massively detoxifying, beetroot is also rich in fibre, Vitamins B, C and iron. Their skin is rich in phytonutrients, so avoid peeling your beetroots and eat raw for most nutritional benefit.
- Variety Boltardy (early), Bolivar, Tondo di Chioggia (stripey)
- Plant Late-winter indoors to mid-summer in rich, light soil. 2.5cm deep in rows 30cm apart. Thin to 7-10cm
- Grow Weed regularly & keep moist
- Harvest Early-summer to first frosts. Twist off leaves & store in sand boxes. Leaves are edible.
- Biodynamic tips Sow on a root day on a waning moon. Plant & harvest on a descending moon.
- Natural remedies Comfrey mulch
Planting guide by Homegrown Kate www.homegrownkate.com