September 5, 2009

Grow your own Beetroot 2009

  • PLANT: ‘Boltardy’ Beetroot (Globe variety)
  • PLANTED IN COMPOST: 6 May
  • PLANTED OUTSIDE: 22 May
  • EXPECTED TIME BETWEEN SOWING AND LIFTING: 11 weeks
  • WATERING: dryness leads to woodiness and low yields and a sudden return to wet conditions leads to splitting, so water moderately at fortnightly intervals during dry spells.
  • HARVESTING: When the roots have reached golf ball size, pull up alternate plants and use these thinnings for cooking. Leave the remainder to reach maturity.

The seeds I got are the Boltardy variety of beetroot, which are apparently really easy to grow on a sunny windowsill.

I planted my beetroot seeds in peat pots on 6 May and did my usual trick of covering with cling film that had holes in it. I put 2 seeds per peat pot just in case they didn’t sprout, but I shouldn’t have worried because they grew without any problems! I suppose I should thin them out so that there’s only one plant per pot, but after what happened with the lettuce I’m a bit scared to touch them!
The photo below was taken on 10 May:
Beetroot 10 MayThe pots that are covered with cling film in the back of the photo are butternut squash seeds, which aren’t showing any signs of growth just yet!.
The photo below was taken on 18 May:
Beetroot 18 May
These are making steady progress and I love how the seedlings are a vibrant purple colour!
The photo below was taken 22 May:
Beetroot planted
Hopefully the beetroot will like their new home in the raised bed, as they seemed to be suffering in the peat pots and the roots weren’t very strong as they didn’t have much freedom. So I took them out of the peat pots when I planted them in the raised beds.
The photo below was taken on 1 June:
Beetroot 1 June
The beetroot are coming on a treat, except for 1 seedling which isn’t growing much at all! I’ve sown some more in compost in a cardboard egg box as I want a regular supply of beetroot!
The photos below were taken 13 June:
New beet seedlings 13 June
These are the new beetroot seeds and they’re growing really well in my home-made mini greenhouse! The plastic cover is just an empty box that had cherry tomatoes in it.
Beets 13 June
The beetroots in the raised bed are coming along nicely (well 5 of them are, the 1 in the front on the right is the runt of the bunch!) so I’m really pleased.
The photos below were taken 25 June:
Beets 25 June-1The first lot of beetroots are doing OK, although some were disturbed by something digging holes (hence all the string, bamboo skewers, chicken wire and PVC – see ‘Carrots’ for more info on my defences!). The biggest plants are 10 inches tall now, which is good and I suppose it’s good that the plants are at different stages of growth so I don’t have to harvest them all at once.

Beets and Pistachios 25 June I’ve treated myself to some pistachio nuts recently and I wanted to use the shells for something. I read that the saltiness on the shells is good for beetroot, so I smashed them up with a hammer (more effort than you’d think, they tough little shells!) and sprinkled around the beetroots. Apparently it also acts as good mulch, so we shall see!
The photo below was taken 2 July:
Beetroot 2 July copy
Well about 3 of the beetroots are nearly ready to be pulled! They’re about 1 inch in diameter at the moment and apparently they’re ready to pull when they’re 1½ inches, so hopefully not too long to wait!
The photo below was taken 25 July:
Beetroot-25-July
A couple of the beetroots are now 2 inches in diameter, but I think I'll wait a bit longer before pulling them up. I’m basically not ready to cook them yet as I’m still doing my cooking course.  I had planned to just boil them, but I was watching Something For the Weekend on Sunday and Simon Rimmer roasted some beetroots for a salad and I really liked that idea, so I’m going to try that instead! 
The photo below was taken on 1 August:
Beets 1 Aug pulled
I decided to pull the 2 largest beetroots today and I’m going to roast them later!

The photo below was taken on 2 August:
Beetroot salad 2 Aug
Here is the salad that I had with my roasted beetroots. I wanted to eat them in the simplest way possible so that I could taste them completely unadulterated and they were very nice. In the past I said I didn’t like beetroot, but that’s because I’d only tasted the ones drowned in vinegar, which I hate!

So to roast the beetroots I just cut the leaves about an inch from the beetroot and gave them a good wash. Then I put the beetroots into a tin foil parcel and covered them in olive oil with some salt and black pepper. Then I roasted them in the oven at Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C for about 1 hour, until they were tender. I left them until they were cool enough to handle and then peeled them, which was really easy to do and my fingers didn’t get too stained!
The photo below was taken 5 September:
Beets 5 Sept
I’ve still got a couple of beetroots that are growing quite nicely, although I pulled out 3 plants that hadn’t grown properly. My success rate with the beetroot hasn’t been too bad and I think I will try growing them again next year.

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