July 2017 from seed
Purchased inNJ, USA
Diseases and Problems
Other than as a food, beets have use as a food colouring and as a medicinal plant. From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. Bartolomeo Platina recommended taking beetroot with garlic to nullify the effects of “garlic-breath”. During the middle of the 19th century wine often was coloured with beetroot juice.
When beet juice is used, it is most stable in foods with a low water content, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings. Betanins, obtained from the roots, are used industrially as red food colourants, e.g. to intensify the colour of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, and breakfast cereals
beetroot juice reduced blood pressure in hypertensive animals and so may have an effect on mechanisms of cardiovascular disease. Tentative evidence has found that dietary nitrate supplementation such as from beets and other vegetables results in a small to moderate improvement in endurance exercise performance.
Beets contain betaines which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homolog of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. High circulating levels of homocysteine may be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. This hypothesis is controversial as it has not yet been established whether homocysteine itself is harmful or is just an indicator of increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Raw beetroot is 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and less than 1% fat (table). In a 100 gram amount providing 43 Calories, raw beetroot is a rich source (27% of the Daily Value, DV) of folate and a moderate source (16% DV) of manganese, with other nutrients having insignificant content (table).
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||180 kJ (43 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Beets do best in deep, well drained soil, but never clay, which is too heavy for large roots to grow. Clay soil should be mixed with organic matter to help soften it. Hard soil can cause the roots of the beet to be tough. Sandy soil is best. If you plant beets in the fall, use a slightly heavier soil to help protect against any early frost.
Beets like cool weather and they shouldn’t be planted until the temperature of the soil is at least 40 F. (4 C.). Plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in the row. Cover the seeds lightly with loose soil, and then sprinkle it with water. You should see the plants sprouting in seven to 14 days. If you want a continuous supply, plant your beets in several plantings, about three weeks apart . You can plant beets in partial shade, but when growing beets, you want their roots to reach a depth of at least 3-6 inches,
Blooming, followed by beets going to seed, is best avoided by following proper planting instructions. Beets should be planted 2-3 weeks after the last frost. Amend plenty of organic matter along with a complete fertilizer into the soil prior to sowing. Plant the seeds at a depth of between ¼ and ½ inch. Thin the seedling to 3 inches apart in rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Seeds germinate between 55-75 F. (13-24 C.) in seven to 14 days. Beets are at their peak when exposed to several weeks of cool weather. Beets don’t like temps over 80 F. (26 C.) and this will indeed cause the plants to bolt. Avoid any water or fertilizer stress which affects the root growth as well. Fertilize with ¼ cup per 10 foot of row or a nitrogen based fertilizer after the emergence of the beets. Keep weeds down between the rows and control insects and diseases.
Harvest your own seeds: First, wait until the beet tops have turned brown before attempting beet seed harvesting. Next, cut 4 inches off the top of the beet plant and store these in a cool, dry area for two to three weeks to allow the seeds to ripen. The seed can then be stripped from the dried foliage by hand or placed in a bag and pounded. The chaff can be winnowed and the seeds plucked out.
Care of Beet Seedlings Water the beet seedling regularly in the amount of about 1 inch of water per week, depending upon temps. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture; water stress within the first six weeks of growth will lead to premature flowering and low yields. Fertilize with ¼ cup per 10 foot row with a nitrogen based food (21-0-0) six weeks after beet seedling emergence. Sprinkle the food along the side of the plants and water it in. Thin the beets in stages, with the first thinning once the seedling is 1-2 inches tall. Remove any weak seedlings, cut rather than pull the seedlings, which will disturb the roots of abutting plants. You can use the thinned plants as greens or compost them. Beet seedlings can be started inside prior to the last frost, which will reduce their harvest time by two to three weeks. Transplants do very well, so plant into the garden at the desired final spacing.
Harvesting beets can be done seven to eight weeks after the planting of each group. Beet greens can be harvested as well. Harvest these while the beet is young and the root is small.
Suitable beet companion plants include: Broccoli Brussels sprouts Bush beans Cabbage Cauliflower Chard Kohlrabi Lettuce Onions
Don’t expect every crop to get along with beets even though they are pretty easygoing. No-no’s for planting near beets include pole beans, field mustard and charlock (wild mustard).
- ‘Albino’, heirloom (white root)
- ‘Bull’s Blood’, heirloom
- ‘Chioggia’, heirloom (distinct red and white zoned root)
- ‘Crosby’s Egyptian’, heirloom
- ‘Cylindra’ / ‘Formanova’, heirloom (elongated root)
- ‘Detroit Dark Red Medium Top’, heirloom
- ‘Early Wonder’, heirloom
- ‘Golden Beet’ / ‘Burpee’s Golden’, heirloom (yellow root)
- ‘Perfected Detroit’, 1934 AAS winner
- ‘Red Ace’ Hybrid
- ‘Ruby Queen’, 1957 AAS winner
- ‘Touchstone Gold’ (yellow root)