Guide to Growing Beetroot
Guide to Growing Beetroot
Beetroot – Beta vulgaris var. cicla
A biennial having a fairly long fleshy root, the bulbous shape which we now know, has been secured by constant selection and good culture. Excepting when grown for seed, the plants are treated asand can be cleared from the ground within a few months from time of sowing.
There are three principal types of beetroot: globe-rooted, long-rooted, and tankard, which is intermediate between the other two. Globe beet is favoured for early crops, and long-rooted and tankard for main-crop and storing.
Seed should be sown in April, May and June in groups of two or three, 6 to 8in. apart in drills 1 in. deep and 15in. apart. Later, the should be thinned to 6 to 8in. apart. Well-worked ground, manured for a previous crop and dressed with a good general or all-purpose fertiliser before sowing, is best. Keep well hoed, lift the roots from July to October when of the desired size for kitchen use, and store in sand or fine ashes in a shed or other sheltered place. Make the earliest sowings in sheltered positions. For the main crop select the round varieties, while the long rooted sorts and those for winter storage are for the later sowings.
Earlypreparation is desirable. A deep sandy loam which is moisture retentive is ideal. The ground should not lack lime and be well supplied with , either fresh or that given to a previous crop. Fish manure at the rate of 2oz to the metre run of row, is an excellent addition where dung is not available.
For early pullings the rows should be about 38cm apart with 45 to 60cm for the maincrops. Thinning out should be done while the seedlings are small, subsequently making further thinnings, some of which can be used, if they are at least 4cm in diameter. The final spacing should be 4 to 8cm for the earlies and 13 to 15cm for the maincrops.
Light hoeing between rows is advisable in the early stages of growth but do not move the soil deeply. When the foliage becomes fairly large and the roots are swelling, soil movement should stop. This prevents damage to the roots. Left in the ground too long, beetroot may be damaged by wet and frost. Therefore, lift and store the roots before severe weather arrives. Always handle beetroot with care to avoid bruising. The tops should be twisted off and not cut, otherwise they bleed and lose colour.
Store the roots in clamps of small size to prevent heating. Place them pointing inwards, in an orderly manner to form a compact heap.
Varieties. Detroit Globe. Boltardy (said to be resistant to bolting), Early Bunch. These are all good globe sorts. Formanova is longish-oval, whilst the old Long Blood Red is still good. Another excellent variety is Burpees Golden Variety, of globe-shape, the skin is golden orange the flesh yellow. The roots do not ‘bleed’ as do the red types. This variety has the advantage that the leaves can be used in salads or cooked as. Snowhite is another excellent variety, with crisp icy-white flesh and no bleeding. It can be used served cold in salads or boiled for use with fish. Excellent American varieties are Early Wonder and King Red.