Beetroots or beets are one of the most nutrient-packed root vegetables. Besides, making a great addition to your family’s diet, beets can be used for medicinal purposes and as natural colouring agent. Therefore, if you want to reap all the healing powers of this superfood, try growing beets in your backyard.
Beet (Beta vulgaris) is a biennial, fast-growing, versatile plant that can be easily included in your vegetable garden. Though, cool weather (60 -65 degrees F) is optimal for growing beets, they tolerate a wide range of conditions. The best season to grow beets is either spring (March and April) or fall (June to September).
For good growth in your home garden, plant beet seeds in well-drained, rich, light soil that is free from stones and clay. Beets, can tolerate a high soil pH, but they will perform better in a low soil pH to thrive, so get your soil tested and apply lime (if needed) to bring it to the recommended range of 6.2-6.8. Remember, there should be a gap of 30 days in between lime application and planting of beets.
As, beet seeds are slow to germinate, soak the seed clusters overnight to soften the shell and fasten the speed germination. Plant seeds, 1 inch deep and about 3 inches apart in rows, with each row about 15 inches apart. However, if you are interested in beet greens (primarily), plant seeds closely together (2 inches apart) in wide 2 to 3 foot beds, instead of rows to get high leaf yield. To avoid leaf spot disease and other insect problems, grow beets in full sun with good air circulation.
Not enough moisture and too much competition for space (from weeds and other plants), make beets stringy and tough. So, after planting beets, make sure the seeds get enough (about 1 inch) water every week to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Also, do thinning (soon after germination), to relieve early crowding and hand pulling of the weeds (time to time), to prevent them from crowding and deforming the roots. Do you suffer from mineral deficiencies? What Is Your Soil Missing?
Start harvesting greens, when they are a couple of inches tall and most tender. Around 50-70 days after planting (depending on variety) beets will be ready for harvest. Tug or dig them, when they are small (1-2 inches in diameter) to get better flavour and texture. After harvesting, separate the leafy tops from the bulbous roots, leaving just about 1 inch of the stem attached to the bulb to preserve moisture. Beets are ideal cellar vegetables, as they can be stored for up to 4 months at freezing temperatures with high humidity.
Beets contain a variety of health-boosting nutrients such as vitamins (A, C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid); minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus); antioxidants (carotenoids, lutein/zeaxanthin, glycine, betaine, flavonoids called anthocyanins); and dietary fiber. Beet greens have even higher nutritional value, for being an excellent source of essential nutrients like protein, vitamin, mineral and fiber.
Health Benefits: Beets, the nutrient rich delicious super food, are good for your skin, bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Beets are high nitrates which become nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a fascinating subject and was the topic of a nobel prize in Medicine in 1998. Nitric oxide or NO is a basic bioregulator in the human body, involved in blood flow, immune function and much more. Viagra is based on the principle of improving nitric oxide in the penis. Beets improve nitric oxide throughout the body for improved health, as shown below.
Beets are also found beneficial in treatment of anaemia, fever and digestive problems. Though, beets have high sugar content, most people can safely enjoy these, a few times a week in a variety of ways i.e. canned, pickled or frozen. To reap the amazing health benefits, remove the thin skin and slice them. Now, either add these slices to your salad or simply eat raw as a healthy snack with some salt, pepper and lemon juice. You can also steam or roast them to put in your soups and other savoury dishes. Enjoy fresh leaves and stems of beet tops in salads, vegetable juices and soups. If leaves are matured, steam or cook them with beets.
If you aren’t growing beets yet, they are worth the try, your growing beets in your backyard and your body both will appreciate the new addition.