Grow beetroot

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Beetroot can be planted pretty much year-round in warm regions and up to around April in cooler regions. While it’s not completely hardy, it will tolerate light frosts.

Successive planting is ideal for this crop. A sowing every 3-4 weeks will keep you well supplied for most of the year.

Sow seed directly into free-draining, fertile soil that’s enriched with compost. A soil that’s slightly acidic will help prevent boron deficiency, which results in the death of young leaves, ‘scorched’ older leaves, and black spots in the hearts of the roots.

Soak the seed in water for a few hours before planting, then sow as directed by the seed packet. Beetroot is generally planted 5-10cm apart, depending on the variety (10cm for large roots). If harvesting baby beetroot, you can sow 5cm apart.

As each ‘seed’ is actually a cluster of three or four seeds, more than one seedling may emerge from each seed cluster, so thin seedlings when they reach 5cm high.

For the sweetest and tastiest roots, beetroot is best grown quickly. This can be achieved by regular watering and the occasional liquid feed. If the soil dries out, growth rate is reduced. Dry beetroot also develops a woody, inedible root.

Beetroot is best harvested when still young, about 5cm in diameter. Mature globes often become hard and fibrous. After harvesting, remove the foliage to prevent it taking moisture from the root.

Check out these delicious beetroot recipes.

Jane Wrigglesworth

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