Beetroot are easy to grow and ideal for anyone new to vegetable gardening. And beetroot is for more than pickling! Try roast beetroot – or even try it in your burger when you’re having a barbecue. For best results, sow beetroot little and often, harvesting the roots when they are young, tender and the size of a golf ball. The leaves can also be eaten. If you grow varieties for winter storage, it is possible to have beetroot almost all year round.
Sow three seeds at 10cm (4in) intervals, 2.5cm (1in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart, at fortnightly intervals from mid-April to July for a succession of tender, tasty roots. Those sown from June onwards can be used for storing in winter, and some people use long or globe varieties for storing, but round roots are also suitable.
Use bolt-resistant varieties for early sowings under cloches in late February or early March. Make the first sowings outdoors with no protection in March or April.
Beetroot will grow in any well-drained garden soil but require fertile conditions, best ensured by digging in at least a bucketful of well-rotted garden compost or organic matter, and raking in a handful per square metre/yard of Growmore or other general purpose fertiliser before sowing. Early sowings benefit from protection with horticultural fleece or cloches.
When the seedlings are about 2.5cm (1in) high thin out to leave one seedling per 10cm (4in) station.
Water every 10-14 days in dry spells. If plants are not growing strongly, apply 30g per square metre of high nitrogen fertiliser, such as sulphate of ammonia, and water in.
Troubleshooting Growing Problems
Bolting: Plants flower and set seed prematurely.
Remedy: Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.
Pull up alternate plants once they have reached golf ball size to use as a tasty treat in the kitchen, leaving the others to reach maturity. Harvest these when they are the size of a cricket ball.
bush beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions
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