In ancient times, beet root was used as a treatment for constipation and fever. In Medieval times, beets were used to for other digestive disorders and to fight scurvy. Beet leaves are said to be good for wounds when crushed and applied to them.
Beets are a popular garden vegetable and can be growth in the ground or in containers. They are fairly easy to grow and almost the whole plant can be consumed. The leaves are delicious in a salad when young and tender, or wonderful cooked when they are more mature. The leaves are more nutritious than the root itself. They are quite tolerant of a slightly warmer and cooler temperatures, but do best in the cooler seasons.
Companion Planting for Beetroot
Beetroot is a vegetable that does well with companion planting as it does not take up too much space. It will do well with Broccoli, beans, cabbage, lettuce, onions and brassicas, and passion fruits. Beans, like all other legumes, are perfect for adding nitrogen to the soil.
Planting: Plant in early Spring or late Summer. Space rows 12″ apart. Beetroot seeds are actually clusters of seeds which will produce 3 or 4 separate seedlings. Thin the new seedlings to leave the strongest otherwise the beets will be crowded and remain small. Can be started in trays, indoor or outdoor.
Watering: Keep soil most, but not waterlogged.
Fertilizer: Prior to planting, add an organic fertilizer to the soil. Low maintenance.
Days to Maturity: 55-65 days. Seedlings emerge in 7-10 days.
Size: Will grow to 4-8″ wide.
Harvesting: The sweetest beets are no bigger than a tennis ball and can be pulled easily when they have reached the required size. Larger beets can be grown if required but ensure they are always kept well watered or they can become tough and woody.
Tips: Store the beetroot in boxes of moist sand in a cool dark place such as a garage or frost free shed.
Cooking Pea: Fresh, homegrown beetroot is absolutely delicious roasted in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt to bring out the flavor. Pickled or boiled beetroot, cooked in a little vinegar and cut into quarters is very tasty and can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.