BEETS (Beta vulgaris)
Requires six hours or more
of strong, direct sun per day.
The stems of beets and their greens are high in vitamin A, providing over twice the RDA. The ascorbic acid content is also high and amounts to half of the RDA (22 mg).
Beets can be grown in most areas of the world, but seem to be particularly adapted to northern climates. They grow best, in southern climates, during the cooler months of late winter and early spring.
Soil requirements of Beets
Superior Beets prefer a well-drained soil that has been enriched with an application of rotted manure or compost. Hot, dry weather and hard packed earth cause beet roots to become stringy and tough.
|Be sure to clear out all stones or other obstacles, during soil preparation, from the top four inches of soil to allow for good root development.|
If you are gardening by moon phases your Beets should be planted when the moon is in the 3rd Quarter (i.e. waning) and in one of the following Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Libra, Capricorn
Sowing beet seeds
Plant the seeds in rows approximately three feet apart. With two feet left between plants, 1/2 ounce of seed will sow a 100-foot row. When seed planting in warm weather, it may be a good idea to soak the seeds, in water, for as long as 12 hours before placing them in the garden. When plants reach two inches in growth, it is time to thin them.
The young leaves of both yellow and red beets can be harvested as micro greens. Use them as a garnish in your dishes or in vegetable salads.
Thinned out plants need not be wasted. Replant them somewhere else in the garden and water well. In a few days they will look as healthy as the others.
To insure the best continuous yield, sow seed every three to four weeks until 90 days before the first frost. Shallow cultivation of weed growth and providing the proper water requirements are the only things necessary for healthy beet growth.
Major beet offenders are the spinach flea beetle, leaf spot and leaf miner.
None of these enemies will cause serious damage to plants grown on fertile soil. Crop rotation and organic insect control will discourage disease and infestation. |
Certain plants are beneficial to beets for both growth and insect control. Two of these helpful companion plants are: onions and kohlrabi. For information on other vegetable companion plants see the companion planting chart. Harvesting beets
Storage of Beets
Mature Beets, for storage, are often left in the ground until just before the first frost. Those being used for long storage should have their tops cut off close to the roots. Remember to separate the diseased and decayed beets from the bunch before storing.
One method of underground storage is to place beets in a plastic basket in a hole three feet deep and four feet square. Place a sheet of plastic on top of the beets, followed by a layer of cornstalks and straw. Beets can also be stored indoors in a cool, dark cellar if placed in moist sand.
Varieties of beets
There are two types of beets—the early growing and the late or maincrop type. Of the early type which prefer spring planting, Ruby Queen, Early Wonder and Crosby's Egyptian Redhart are popular. Detroit Dark Red matures in about 60 days and produces a fine-grained vegetable. Cylindra is a Danish variety that is long in shape and has a tender quality.
Winter Keeper and Detroit Dark Red are longer maturers and store well through the winter.