Beetroot are easy to grow, take up little space and are ideal for beginners. They’re also nutritious, delicious and versatile. Sow seeds little and often, for continuous cropping, harvesting when the roots are young, tender and the size of a golf ball. If you grow varieties for winter storage, it’s possible to have beetroot almost all year round.
Jobs to do now
- Harvest as required
- Water in dry spell
- Keep the bed weed-free
- Sow last batch of seeds
Month by month
Sow three seeds at 10cm (4in) spacings, 2.5cm (1in) deep, in rows 30cm (1ft) apart.
Sow small batches at fortnightly intervals from March or April to July for a succession of tender, tasty roots.
Choose bolt-resistant varieties for early sowings under cloches or fleece in late February or early March. You can sow without protection from late March onwards.
Beetroot sown from June onwards can be stored for use in winter.
Beetroot grows best in fertile, well-drained soil.
Prior to sowing, dig in a bucketful of well-rotted garden compost or other organic matter. Then rake in a handful per square metre/yard of Growmore or other general-purpose fertiliser.
When the seedlings are about 2.5cm (1in) high, thin out to leave one every 10cm (4in).
During dry spells, water every 10–14 days.
If plants aren’t growing strongly, apply high nitrogen fertiliser (30g/1oz per sq m/yd), such as sulphate of ammonia, and water in.
Beetroot can be harvested from early summer through to mid-autumn, depending on sowing time and variety.
Pull up alternate plants once the roots are golf ball size, leaving the rest to reach maturity if you wish. Harvest these when no larger than a cricket ball.
Plants flower and set seed prematurely.
Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.
This unusual beetroot in cream goes well with game or roast beef
Nigel Slater presents his chilled beetroot soup with creamed goat’s cheese
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