How to Grow Leaf beets

Beta vulgaris Spinach beet; Seakale beet or Chard

Both spinach beet and seakale beet belong to the same family as garden beetroots. Spinach beet is sometimes called perpetual spinach and is grown for the leaves which, along with the green petioles, are eaten whole for the spinach-like flavour. This crop is said to tolerate temperature fluctuations better than annual spinach. Seakale beet or Chard is very similar but has wide, flat petioles which are white in the case of Swiss Chard and red in Ruby Chard. For culinary purposes the leaves and petioles of seakale beets can be used as separate vegetables when the leaf-stalks of Swiss Chard can be substituted for seakale itself. The leaves of spinach and seakale beets have a milder flavour than those of true spinach.

Soil and fertilizer requirements

Any well-drained, fertile garden soil is suitable for leaf beets. They should be given similar fertilizers to annual spinach to encourage succulent leaf growth. In other respects their requirements are similar to those of beetroot.

Seed sowing and crop management

Leaf beets can either be sown in the spring— for harvesting in the summer or autumn—or in late summer for harvesting in winter and early spring. The best results are obtained from spring sown crops. Sow the seed thinly in 1-cm (½-in) deep drills during April. Leave 40cm (16in) between rows and thin the seedlings to 20cm (8in) apart when they are large enough. Weed control is particularly necessary during the early stages of these crops and regular watering is very useful in hot, dry summers.

Harvesting

Cut the entire leaves—petioles and leaf blades—from the plants as they become ready. Regular harvesting encourages more leaves to develop.

Pests and diseases

Similar problems to those found on spinach are likely to be encountered.

Suitable cultivars

Use the foliage of’Swiss Chard’ as spinach and the petioles as seakale. ‘Ruby Chard’ is useful as a vegetable and as an ornamental plant. ‘Perpetual spinach’ is an excellent substitute for annual spinach.

01. June 2013 by admin
Categories: Tips and Advice | Comments Off on How to Grow Leaf beets

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