Beetroot are a bit of a neglected vegetable, but they’re easy to grow and offer something new and fresh to your kitchen.
Beetroot leaves can be used in tasty salads, and you can pickle, roast or grate the beetroots themselves. In addition, they don’t require a lot of space and if you grow successively, you can get a long period of cropping.
For the best growing conditions, beetroot like a well fertilised soil, so before planting seedlings outside, make sure you’ve added some well rotted manure or compost to the area. It’s also a good idea to rake some general purpose fertiliser into the soil.
If you want a long harvest, it’s best to start sowing beetroot during April, sowing additional plants every two weeks until July. You can sow them directly into the ground, placing three seeds in 2.5cm deep holes which are 10cm apart. Alternatively, if you want to keep a closer eye on seedlings, sow them in modular seed trays.
Thinning, watering and fertilising beetroot plants
Allow each plant to grow to 2.5cm before picking out the strongest individual from each trio and removing the others. If seedlings have been grown in seed trays, transplant into their final position at this stage.
In dry spells, water plants every 10 days, and if seedlings aren’t growing well, you can add 30g per square metre of a high nitrogen fertiliser.
Begin to harvest when beets have grown to the size of a golf ball, using these plants immediately. Other beets can be left to mature, and can be stored overwinter when they’re the size of a cricket ball.