Beetroot is one of the vegetables we both enjoy to eat, so we always dedicate a LARGE bed to growing some.
Beetroot is really easy to grow. If the soil temperature is warm enough, seeds can be sown as early as March, although we usually wait until April or May. The soil temperature needs to be at least 7C for seeds to germinate.
If the outside temperature is too cold there is a risk the young beetroot seedlings may run to seed. So, if growing beetroot in early spring it’s worth choosing a bolt resistant variety, such as Boltardy, just incase that warm Spring weather takes a turn for the worst. We have also discovered there is no point sowing seeds after the end of July, they just fail to grow. Like spinach, beetroot seeds will fail to germinate if the temperature is too high.
Beetroot seeds look a little like corky granola; they are actually a cluster of seeds. Each cluster contains several seeds so if multiple seeds germinate thinning is essential. When thinning don’t discard the seedlings, the young leaves are edible and can be used like spinach, after all beetroot and spinach are related.
Beetroot seedlings don’t transfer well so it’s important to sow seeds in situ. Beetroot isn’t too fussy about soil type but heavy clay soil will need to be improved to allow for proper drainage and to prevent mis-shapen roots.
Sow seeds in drills about 2.5cm deep, placing the seeds at 10cm intervals. Cover, label and water in well. There should be at least 20cm between rows
Seeds take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to germinate, little seedlings will start to appear.
Beetroot is a fairly low maintenance vegetable. Just ensure seedlings are kept weed free and water well weekly. Hot dry summers can lead to woody roots. A plentiful but inconsistent water supply can lead to the roots splitting. So a good drenching once a week should prevent both of this issues. Soil moisture can easily be retained by using mulch.
Expect to be picking fully matured beetroots 10 to 15 weeks after sowing the seed. To maintain a constant supply it’s worth thinking about successional sowing every couple of weeks, all the way up to the end of July.
Problems? not that many, but slugs and snails have played havoc with our crops in the past. They love to harvest the young tender leaves as they start to emerge from the ground. Whilst this solves the issue of thinning it can be a major issue when they devour the lot! We are ‘organic’ in our approach to gardening fruit and vegetables and don’t use slug pellets or any other types of pesticides come to that. Not only that, there are pesky slugs that live underground and they have been known to eat the roots. If it’s not one thing it’s another! See below, last year my beautiful golden beetroot was destroyed. To make matters worse, a family of woodlice then move into their newly sculptured home…. The cheek of it!!!
To limit the risk of disease and keep the soil healthy always practice good crop rotation.
The varieties of beetroot we are growing this year include:
Boltardy: This is probably one of the best and most favoured varieties of beetroots grown in the UK. It’s a globe beetroot and produces a good crop of deep red roots. It has RHS award of merit. It’s ideal for early sowing as it has a good resistance to bolting.
Touchstone Gold: Supplied by The Real Seed Catalogue. Personally this is one of my favourite varieties. As the name suggests it’s a golden beetroot. It’s fairly vigorous and grows quickly. The roots are sweet and tender.
Chioggia: Another globe beetroot, this one is red with white rings. It’s sweet and tender.
Sanguina: This is also from the Real Seed Catalogue, a deep blood red conical shaped beetroot. It comes from Italy, it should be juicy and sweet. We’ve not grown it before so we will see how it turns out.
Pablo F1 Hybrid: Fast growing, bolt resistant AGM winner. It oozes quality. This variety remains tender even when left in the soil to grow larger roots; you’ll find that most other varieties tend to turn horribly woody if they are left to grow larger.
Jannis: Supplied by MoreVeg. Moreveg claim this to have a very long sowing season, from January/February (under cover) to August. It’s supposed to be bolt resistant and may rival Boltardy in years to come. Good flavour. Will compare this variety to Boltardy and let you know what I think
AND the one I want to grow but have been told I have to grow it at home… don’t ask!……. okay, it’s because it’s NOT red. I know!!!!!
‘Albino’ White Beetroot: Supplied by The Real Seed Catalogue. Okay, yes this is a bit of a novelty but The RSC note it tastes just the same as the red varieties. However, what’s even better is it’s exceptionally productive and grows quickly! I’ll keep you posted.