Edible garden: Growing beetroot
Beetroot is a member of the spinach family. Young leaves make delicious salads and mature leaves can be eaten in the same way as spinach.
Beetroot can be grown most of the year in warmer districts. For year-round harvesting, sow successively in small batches about every three weeks. Direct sow in the garden when the danger of hard frost has passed, or grow seedlings inside and transplant. Beetroot is also ideal for container growing.
Choose from a variety of shapes and colour: long, round, deep red, orange/gold or white.
Beetroot likes fertile, free-draining soil with a pH of between 6.5 and 7.5. Avoid using fresh manure or organic material, which can cause misshapen roots. It needs a sunny position and will not thrive in shade.
For container growing, a depth of at least 30cm is needed, with drainage material at the bottom.
Sow seeds fairly close together (3cm apart) and constantly harvest seedlings for salads, or transplant at wider spacings of around 30cm to give plenty of room to grow larger: sow seeds approximately 2cm deep in moist, lightly tamped down soil.
Seeds will come up in around 15 days, depending on the variety, and should be kept evenly moist during the growing season but not over-watered. Mulch well for weed control.
The beetroot will be ready to harvest between 56–70 days after sowing.
Beetroot's nutritional benefits
Beetroot contains antioxidants and is a good source of the B-group vitamin, folate.
- Gently fry a finely chopped onion in a little oil; add peeled, chopped raw beetroot, including the leaves, and a tablespoon of soy sauce per beetroot (more to taste). Add any other veges you have such as carrots or cauliflower – they all come out a lovely red colour when cooked. Simmer for 20 minutes, until soft. Serve hot as a side dish with meat and rice.
- Baby beetroot are sweet and delicious baked whole.