Beetroot

← Return to A to Z

Beta vulgaris

 

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 15-25°
Days to Germination 10-15 days
Days to Harvest 55 days
Direct Sow or Transplant Direct
Distance Apart 15-20cm
Soil pH 6.0-7.5
Annual/Biennial /Perennial  Biennial

History

The earliest cultivated beet was around 2000BC in the Mediterranean Aristotle made detailed descriptions of beets 384-322BC.  Assyrian texts describe beets growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Originally Beetroot was grown for it’s leaves.  The root was saved and used as a dye.  Nowadays the root is used in salads, roasted, picked or put in soup.

Beets belong to the Goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) with silverbeet, sugar beet, and spinach.

Beetroot is not just red!  You can find varieties that are white, yellow, pink, or pink and white striped to name a few.

Growing

Extremely fast growing and able to be sown spring through till autumn makes beetroot an awesome vegetable almost all year round.

Likes good loam that has been well dug over and a relatively high dose of nitrogen.  Plant in a warm, sheltered, sunny spot for best results.

Sow Beetroot seed sparingly to avoid overcrowding as germination is usually consistent.  Once planted give the area a good soak with water.  Keep weed free.

Thin Beetroot to allow them room to grow.  Thinnings can be added to salads as a micro-green.

Beetroot likes to grow near dwarf beans, onions, or kohlrabi but not climbing beans or mustard.

It is very easy to tell when the beetroot is ready as the top of the root will be visible above the soil.

Storing harvested Beetroot: You can leave beetroot in the ground for a month or so before it goes woody.  It will store well placed in a a hessian sack in a cool dark place.  (Even shriveled they will taste fantastic, if not sweeter).   Can also be dried (fair flavour),  frozen (fair flavour), or canned (good flavour).  Check out our recipe section for Bottled Beetroot.

Seed Saving:  Wind pollinated, will cross pollinate with silverbeet.  Allow 2km exclusion zone.  30 plants required for genetic diversity.

Seed Life:  Six years

Maintenance

Thinning will give the beets more room to grow however don’t thin them to much as they like growing in company.

Fun Facts

Falling in love happens when a couple eat from the same beetroot.

In 1975 during the Apollo-Soyuz test project American astronauts from Apollo 18 were welcomed by Borscht (Beetroot Soup) by the cosmonauts of the Soyuz 19.

Drinking beetroot juice is said to cure hangovers. (Beetroot contains Betacyanin which speeds up detoxification in the liver).  It is also said to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Beets have high levels of antioxidants,anti-inflammatories, and fibre  They are also a good source of folate, vitamin A and K, manganese, copper and potassium.  They also have a high sugar content.

Beetroot was used as an aphrodisiac in Roman times

Beets make a great dessert wine.

Beet juice has been used as a hair dye since the 16th Century.

Eating enough beets will dye your urine and bowel movements.  this is called Beeturia.

The largest beet in the world was grown in Somerset in 2001, it weighed in at 23.4kg

Borsch – beet soup (Russian) is popular worldwide.

Problems

Manganese Deficiency – yellow patches between veins in leaves.  Leaves turn brown at edges.  Do not add too much lime to soil

Boron Deficiency – young leaves die, older leaves look scorched and wilted.  Black patches form on roots.  Do not add too much lime to soil

Excess Nitrogen – poor flavour, roots lack sweetness

Uneven growth – caused by irregular watering

Bolting/Prematurely Going to Seed – cold weather followed by hot weather.  Mulch to reduce soil fluctuations

White rings/Poor colour or texture – over-matured, harvest when younger.

Leaf spot – light grey spots on older leaves.  More common in warm wet weather.  Crop rotation is important.

Rust – rusty brown spots on older leaves.  Remove diseased leaves and destroy

Pests

Leafminer – thin meandering lines through leaves.  Remove affected leaves

Companion Planting

Bush Beans, Cabbages, Dill, Lettuce, Marjoram, Onions, Potato, Silverbeet

NEVER  Climbing Beans, Tomato