Grow beetroot from the bulb and enjoy the unique taste and health benefits they have to offer.
For hundreds of years, beetroots have been known to be a common culinary ingredient. They are quite versatile when it comes to applications.
You can use them to make a tasty puree, add color to your soup, make a vegetable salad, or simply as a red garnish. They are known commonly for their striking red color and slightly sweet taste. This precious vegetable is pretty easy to grow.
Here is a simple comprehensive and step-by-step guide on how you can grow beets in your home garden.
Details for Growing Beetroot
|Planting Months||Between March and July|
|Harvest Months||3 months after planting|
|Temperature to Plant||15 to 20 C (60F to 70F)|
|Planting Depth||2 cm for seeds and 2 inches for seedlings|
|Sunlight||Up to 8 hours each day|
|Direction||North to south|
|Drainage||Well-drained loamy soil|
|pH Level||6 to 7|
|Companion Plants||Kohlrabi – Onion – Silverbeet – Lettuce – Cabbage – Dill – Lovage – Marjoram|
|Health Benefits||Rich in Phosphorus and manganese ions. Contains some proteins and is abundant in folate and vitamin C|
Seven Steps to Growing Beetroot
Like any other vegetable, beetroots require well-drained fertile soil. The soil has to be rich in humus and decomposed organic matter. It also has to be moist; you can apply mulch to your garden at least a week before planting your beets just to increase the organic matter in the soil.
Beetroots are stem tubers. They, therefore, require loose soil that will allow the root and stem to swell. Extremely compact soil is likely to hamper the development of the tuber. Many agricultural specialists suggest that loam soil is the best for growing beetroots because of its high humus content and impeccable drainage.
However, further research has also shown that black cotton soil and volcanic loam can serve the purpose as well.
Beetroots require a soil pH level that tends towards neutral. A soil pH level that lies somewhere between 6.0 and 7.0 is best for the plants.
Soil pH Testing
You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance.
Planting beets is pretty easy. You can opt to sow seeds in the ground or replant seedlings from a nursery. To yield better results, it is advisable to make your own seed nursery and then replant the seedlings. So how do you go about the seeding process?
You should have prepared your soil before this stage. If your soil is not packed with organic matter, add compost to it. Use a rake to dig shallow trenches; each about 2 cm in depth. Use your finger to make smaller holes in the trenches. Each hole should be a distance of at least 4 inches from the other.
In each hole drop, two to three beetroot seeds and lightly cover them with soil. The soil should be humid enough. You don’t have to water it again. You can make a thatched shed over the seedbed to avoid too much incident sunlight and to conserve moisture in the soil.
The best way to germinate your seeds so that they have a great start is with a germination kit. Seeds that are grown this way produce greater results.
Your seeds should have germinated within two weeks at most. Once the seedlings are at least 5 cm off the ground, you can remove the shed and let them access direct sunlight.
If you notice that the soil is less moist at this point, you can water it at least once every two days. Apply mulch at the base of each seedling to conserve moisture, especially during hot days.
Once the seedlings are about 2.5 inches in height, you can now replant them in a less populous place. Choose those seedlings which bear at least four foliage leaves. Any seedling that has not been born during the first four leaves at this stage is considered immature and therefore should be left in the nursery for a few more days.
To uproot the seedlings, you can use a shovel or any tool with a wide blade. Mark a distance of 1o to 15 cm away from the seedling and sink it about 3 inches into the soil such that it reaches below the root level. Shovel out the seedling while retaining a small lump of soil attached to its roots.
To replant the seedlings, you have to dig holes that are about two inches in diameter and two inches in depth. Water the holes and let them sit overnight. Add about a tablespoon of organic manure to each hole the night before planting.
Once the holes are ready, put each seedling in its hole. Make sure that it still has its initial lump of soil attached to its roots. Ensure that at least 3 cm of the shoot remains above the ground level. It is important to maintain a distance of about three-quarters of a foot from each seedling.
As the seedlings grow, they require more water. The beetroot is a herbaceous plant. It only does well in moisturized soils. In the early growth stages, you have to water the plants once every two days.
However, avoid administering too much water as the soil may be too soggy, causing the seedlings to rot. Once the beet seedlings are robust, you can introduce a drip irrigation mechanism by sinking the open end of a bottle of water right next to each seedling.
The good thing with beetroots is that they are really easy to tend to. They do not need much attention. They are not prone to infestation by pests or diseases. However, they do attract a lot of weeds. Therefore, you have to weed your beet garden regularly.
Fence Your Beetroot
Their shoots are a favorite to many herbivores such as rabbits. You, therefore, have to fence your garden to steer clear of such.
If planted in the right conditions as described earlier, your beetroots should be ready for harvesting in three months. It is pretty standard for most species of beetroots. If you leave the beetroots for longer than three months, the shoots will start to dry up.
Picking Your Beetroot
Harvesting them is quite easy. It is simply uprooting them out of the ground. Keep the upper shoot intact with the bulb. Once the whole plant is out of the ground, you can cut off the shoots, leaving a portion f the stem attached to each bulb.
Keeping The Bulb
This is to make sure that the beetroot bulb does not bleed out the sap in it. Do not get rid of the leaves; they are a nutritious vegetable as well.
As it goes for many rhizomes, you should not wash the beets before storing them. Rub off the soil and dirt using a dry piece of cloth. However, if you insist on washing them, make sure you wipe them completely dry and leave them in the open air to get rid of moisture.
One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing.
Pack them in sealed freezer bags but don’t freeze them. Store them in the crisp drawer of your fridge. They can only stay fresh for a maximum of ten days under these conditions.
If you wish to freeze them for longer, peel them and store them in zipped freezer bags and freeze them. They can last up to six months when frozen. However, they may lose their crisp and fresh taste.
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