|Photo c/o PureMed Naturopathic|
I remember the first time I got some from the market. I bought these beautiful golden beets, took them home, gave them a good wash, dried them real well, and then doused them in olive oil, a bit of chopped garlic, and some salt and pepper - and then roasted them in the oven for about 30 minutes (Fresh beets cook much faster than store bought because they tend to hold much more water - and nutrients - than the latter). Holy sweet Beets! They were buttery, soft, delicate, sweet (obviously) and loaded with goodness. There was no going back.
Just like radishes, beets come in a variety of colours and are also very simple to grow. And let me tell you - the benefits of growing these little gems are well worth the effort! And by effort, I mean low maintenance, minimal, a baby could do it effort. Okay, maybe not a baby. But a medium-aged child, for sure!
What You'll Need:
1 - 2 Packets Beet Seeds (choose a couple different varieties).
Some good quality, rich, organic dirt - try Sea Soil - probably about 4 - 5 gallons.
2 C Vermiculite.
Some Way to Indicate the varietal of beet and the dates you planted it.
+ IN POTS: 5 gallon container about 2-3 feet deep, some broken crock-pots or gravel to line the bottom, and a drill or something to that effect to ensure proper drainage.
What to Do:
Again, like radishes, beets prefer cool weather and sunny or partially sunny locations.
I find here on the coast, they have grown best in mid Spring through mid Summer, and then again in September.
You may wish to check the pH-balance of your soil for beets with a thermometer (available at any garden store). They prefer a balance of 6.5 - 7. I didn't and mine were just fine - depends how specific you wanna get. If you do, and it needs to be raised, purchase some lime from the garden centre and use as specified on the label.
If you are growing them in the ground, make sure the soil is deeply dug. Combine some vermiculite into the soil and plant seeds .5" deep, and 1" apart. Water gently.
If you are growing them in pots (as I did last year), drill some holes in the bottom of your container if they aren't already present. Watch your fingers! Line the bottom of the pot with an inch of rocks or whatever you're using. Fill with the dirt, mix in the vermiculite, and sow as above. Water gently.
In about 5 - 12 days the seeds should germinate and you will start to see little seedling leaves poking through the top of the soil. Once the seedlings get to be a couple inches tall, thin them to 4" apart each. You can eat the little seedlings so toss them in a salad rather than in the garbage.
Make sure you water your little beets! Stick your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle or so. If the soil is dry, water. If it's damp, let it be.
Harvest after about 4 - 6 weeks when they reach the desired size - usually about 2 - 3 inches in width. If you leave them too long they will become fibrous and woody, not succulent and sweet.
Re-seed (in both ground and pots) every 3 weeks for a continuous supply.