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Red beet, blood-red juice but no-sweat growing!

Red beet

Red beet is a sweet-tasting vegetable with high mineral and vitamin contents.

Basic Beet facts

Name – Beta vulgaris
Family – Amaranthaceae
Type – biennial vegetable

Height – 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm)
Exposure – full sun

Soil: light, humus-rich, neutral pH  –  Harvest: when root is 4 in (10 cm) wide

It is easy to grow. Caring for beetroot from seed to harvest will not be hard for anyone, and will make for delicious meals both raw and cooked.

Sowing and planting red beet

Either sown directly in the ground from seed or planted from young seedlings purchased on the market, red beets are very easy to grow.

Sowing red beet

Young leaves are striking red for some red beet varieties.Red beet favors rather rich soil. It helps to amend the soil beforehand with fertilizer such as manure and seaweed to mix into the ground.

This guarantees that you will have plump, delicious red beet upon harvest.

If you’re looking to sow red beet from seed, it is best to sow directly in the ground in April, May or June.

Red beet sprouts quickly, only 10 to 12 days after sowing.

  • Take care that it doesn’t freeze anymore, or protect them with a plastic tunnel greenhouse if there is any risk.
  • Dig a furrow about 1 inch (2 cm) deep.
  • If planting several rows, space the rows around 16 inches (40 cm) apart.
  • Place 2 to 3 seeds in the ridges at 10 inch (25 cm) intervals.
  • Water regularly with a fine drizzle.
  • Thin as soon as the first leaves appear to retain only the most vigorous seedling.

Planting red beet

You might have purchased your red beet in nursery pots, or prepared your own from seeds under cover to protect it from the cold. Red beet can be transplanted to the ground anytime in spring.

  • Place plants at least 10 inches (25 cm) apart.
  • If planting several rows, space the rows around 16 inches (40 cm) apart.
  • Water regularly and avoid wetting the leaves.

Growing and caring for red beet

Red beet growing stemsOnce the seeds are sown or the planting done with, caring for red beet is straightforward and easy.

  • Red beet will survive dry spells and high summer temperatures, but the root turns woody.
  • Lack of water makes the roots turn hard and fibrous.
  • Remember to water from May to September as soon as the soil is dry.
  • Mulch around the base of the red beet helps retain moisture longer.
  • Some varieties like the Egyptian red beet resist drought with less impact on the flesh.

Harvesting red beet

Harvest season starts in the end of May to August, depending on when they were planted or sown.

Harvesting red beetWhen the root reaches 4 inches (10 cm) across, pull it out and eat it, either cooked or raw.

  • Harvest only when you need them, because they keep better in the ground with their leaves than in the refrigerator.
  • Lift the red beet delicately with a spade or forked spade without damaging it.
  • Remember to harvest all your red beets before the first frost spells hit.

Keeping red beet

If correctly prepared, red beet can keep for months.

  • Once pulled out from soil, cut the small roots from the beet itself.
  • Remove leaves cutting them off at ½ inch (1 cm).
  • Brush them a bit to get rid of most dirt.
  • Dry the red beet a bit and then place them in a crate with sand in a cool but well-ventilated room.

All there is to know about red beet

A maturing red beet almost ready for harvest still in the soilRed beet is eaten for its roots, whereas other varieties called silverbeet or chard are only grown for their leaves. Red beet is part of the same family as spinach.

With scientific name Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, red beet is a subspecies of the Amaranthaceae family.

→ For fresh summer salads, early beet varieties such as ‘Flat of Egypt‘ are best. Later varieties excel as a winter crop.

Red beet is also used to produce sugar, but a special, saccharose-rich sugar beet variety is cultivated in large fields specifically for that purpose.

bunch of beet on table wrapped with elastic bandIt has high sugar contents and is particularly well-loved in mixed salads. Whether cooked or raw, it will also replenish your vitamin, fiber and mineral needs!

Red beet also has high vitamin C contents and its leaves contain a high vitamin A ratio. Finally, note that red beet has elevated levels of fibers, proteins and betaine.

Smart tip about red beet: how to keep them

Keeping red beet in sand crates will let you eat them all winter long. Simply cover them with clean, dry sand and store them in a cool, dark and well-ventilated spot.

However, you can also leave them out in the ground, covered under a layer of hay. Then, you’d just need to go dig a few out every week or so as the season progresses. Great way to have a reason to go gardening outside during the wintertime!

Images: 123RF: Aneva; own work: Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois; Pixabay: Alexei Hulsov, Jill Wellington, Åsa Lundqvist
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