Freshly harvested beetroot tastes fabulous, unlike shop bought beetroot homegrown beetroot has the most fantastic flavor. If you sow, harvest and store beetroot correctly it is possible to eat your own beetroot all year round – making it a very popular vegetable for home gardeners.
Beetroot prefer to be grown on a soil which is deep, sandy and fertile. The land should be dug in winter adding some well-rotted compost while digging. Beetroot grows well in areas which have sun throughout the day but need soil that will hold enough water to keep them going for a few days when there is little or no water. Roots that haven’t been watered will become woody.
You can begin sowing beetroot in April with the last sowing in late June, this will ensure you have a continuous crop throughout the summer season.
Beetroot seed is actually a cluster of 3 seeds. You need to sow a single cluster of seed 4 inches apart in rows that are 10 inches apart, this will allow enough room for the plants to grow. However if you decide to grow long varieties of beetroot such as Cheltenham Green Top you should leave twelve inches between rows as these plants tend to grow a little larger.
Once the seedlings are large enough to handle you can begin thinning them, this is done by removing the weakest seedling from each station, as they are commonly known by gardeners. This will leave one seedling every four inches.
The plants must be kept well watered, if watered at irregular intervals the beetroot can soon become woody and even inedible. The ground around the plants should also be kept weed free.
Once the first roots reach the size of a small golf ball you should harvest every second plant in the row. These can be used for cooking immediately and the leaves can be cooked like spinach.
The rest of the plants will now be left to mature. These should not be allowed to grow any larger than a tennis ball, if they grow too large they will become woody and tasteless. Plants should be harvested by firmly holding the top of the beetroot and pulling, they should come out of the ground easily.