BEETROOT (Beta vulgaris)
Beetroot is a biennial raised from seed, and used during the first season of growth when the roots swell to a round or pointed shape.
As in the case of salads, the secret of growing beet is to grow it quickly to maturity, without any check. Beetcannot be transplanted satisfactorily, and the seeds are therefore sown where they are to mature. They can be sown in frames, but this is hardly worthwhile in the amateur’s garden.
Beet grow best in a deep light loam, with plenty of drainage, although they will grow in almost any. Manure must not be used on tie ground in which beet are to be grown. A soil that has been heavily manured for former crops, however, will prove ideal. The plants will be encouraged to make good-shaped roots, whereas in newly-manured soil they generally make a number of fangs.
Seeds may be sown ontdoors in early May in drills 2 in. deep and 1-1/2 ft. apart. These drills are drawn with a hoe, and the seed scattered thinly along them. When the seedlings are about 2 in. in height they can be thinned out, and later on planted out so that they are 1 ft. apart each way. Planting out should always be done in damp weather.
Beetroot must not be checked in any way, as this will often cause the plants to run to seed; constant hoeing helps to prevent this trouble. Only give water when absolutely necessary.
Two or three sowings should be made in succession so that fresh roots are obtainable for a long time. If early roots are wanted for exhibition m, purposes, they can be sown in frames in March. In the case of exhibition roots, weak doses of soluble fertilizer can be given occasionally, after the soil has been thoroughly soaked with rain or water.
Those roots that are not used during the summer for the table, should be lifted in September and stored for use during the winter.
They must be lifted very carefully and the tops twisted from them, not cut, leaving 2 or 3 in. of top growth on the crown.
The roots should then be stored in sand, dry soil, or ashes.
Grown for Exhibition
When roots are grown for exhibition, particularly when the long-rooted kinds are grown, special holes should be bored for them. These are made with a crow-bar. A preparedconsisting of old potting soil, with mortar rubble, wood ashes, and well-decayed leaves, rubbed through a ¾ in. mesh sieve, is filled into the holes. Three or four seeds are sown on these prepared sites, and when the seeds show up, only the strongest one is allowed to remain. The holes should be about 1 ft. apart and 1-1/2 ft. deep.
Soot and lime, mixed with finely-sifted coal ashes that have been stored for some time, and strewn along the rows of beet seedlings, keep both slugs and birds away.
In choosing roots for exhibition, select those of medium size, clean, tapering, or perfectly globular, and free from blemish. The small rootlets must be trimmed off carefully, but a few of the youngest leaves are left on each crown. The root end of theshould face the front of the staging. Lightly spray the roots with clear water at the last moment before the judging.
Some of the best varieties are: “Crimson Ball” and “July Globe” (round), or “Dell’s Crimson” and “Covent Garden” (long).