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Beetroot

Growing beetroot in arid Southern Africa can be a lot of fun, and I’m here to help you get started. Let’s learn how, when, and why to grow these tasty and nutritious veggies!

How to Grow Beetroot:

  1. Choose the Right Time: In arid regions, it’s best to plant beetroot during the cooler months when the temperatures are not too hot. Autumn and early spring are good times to start your beetroot garden.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Find a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Beetroot prefers loose and fertile soil, so you can add compost or organic matter to improve it.
  3. Sow the Seeds: You can plant beetroot seeds directly into the soil about 1-2 centimeters deep. Leave some space between each seed, around 5-7 centimeters apart.
  4. Watering: Since it’s arid, water your beetroot regularly but not too much. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged. Using water-saving techniques like drip irrigation can be helpful.
  5. Thin the Seedlings: Once the seedlings have grown a bit, you might notice that they are too close together. Thin them out by removing some seedlings, leaving only the healthiest ones spaced out properly.
  6. Weeding: Keep an eye on the garden and remove any weeds that pop up. Weeds compete with your beetroot for nutrients and water, so it’s essential to keep them under control.
  7. Harvesting: Your beetroot will be ready to harvest in about 8-10 weeks from sowing. You can gently pull them out of the ground when they reach a good size, usually about the size of a golf ball or larger.

Why Grow Beetroot:

  1. Delicious and Nutritious: Beetroot is not only tasty but also packed with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and folate. It’s a great addition to salads, soups, and even as a tasty roasted side dish.
  2. Water-Saving Crop: While it might seem surprising, beetroot is quite resilient and can handle drier conditions compared to some other vegetables. By choosing drought-tolerant crops like beetroot, you’re being water-wise in arid regions.
  3. Colorful and Fun: Beetroot comes in beautiful colors like deep red, golden, or even striped varieties. It’s not only delicious but also visually appealing in your garden and on your plate.
  4. Quick Growing: Beetroot grows relatively fast, so you’ll be able to enjoy your homegrown harvest in just a few months.

Remember, growing your own beetroot is a rewarding experience, and by following these simple steps, you’ll have delicious and nutritious veggies right from your garden in arid Southern Africa. Happy gardening!

This article is adapted from www.planetnatural.com.

A delicious addition to home vegetable gardens, beets (Beta vulgaris) are a great choice for fresh eating, roasting or canning. Both foliage and roots are edible and baby heirlooms, with their​ ​beautiful colors and​ ​earthy sweetness,​ ​are a culinary treat! Tops or “greens” as they are called are an excellent source of vitamin A and the roots are a good source of potassium, iron, vitamin C and dietary fiber.

​Organic beet​s are easy to grow​ ​at home. You can sow them directly into the garden from spring to mid summer. They ​tolerate cold​ temperatures ​– ​down to 25˚F​ –​ but it’s a good idea to start mulching them as soon as frost season hits.​ ​And the peace of mind you’ll gain from raising them without chemicals? Priceless!

Beets prefer a cooler climate and should be grown in well drained, loose textured soil. Choose a site that gets full sun and dig down deeply — at least 25cm — to promote good root development. Work in 15 to 20 lbs of garden compost for every 100 square feet of soil. Beets also make an excellent raised bed crop, just make sure that they get plenty of water.

How to Plant

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Sow seeds 3cm apart in rows in early spring or late fall. Beets can withstand freezing temperatures, but plants exposed to 2 to 3 weeks of cold weather (below 50˚F) may go to seed early, especially after the first leaves have developed. Thin rows as plants develop and apply 10-15cm of mulch to help maintain soil moisture and limit weeds. Promote rapid growth by feeding every three weeks with a balanced organic fertilizer and seaweed extract.

Tip: The highest yield of baby beets is obtained when they are sown at a rate of 10 to 15 seeds per sq. ft. For larger more mature roots, the best spacing is 5 to 10 seeds per sq. ft.

Harvesting and Storage

Begin harvesting beets when roots reach 2.5cm across (typically 55 to 70 days after sowing seeds). Do not allow roots to grow larger than 8cm or they will be tough and woody. Try to leave at least 3cm of foliage on the root to avoid bleeding during cooking. Greens are ready to harvest 30-45 days after planting.

Beets can be refrigerated for several weeks. To store overwinter, pack in damp sawdust and keep cool.

Insect & Disease Problems

Cover with floating row cover immediately after planting to deter leafminers and flea beetles. Wireworms are another persistent pest of beetroot.

Beetroots with scab disease develop corky spots on the root surfaces. Maintain uniform moisture and lower the soil pH. Keep an eye out for curly top virus which can affect the leaves making them look stunted and crinkled.

Seed Saving Instructions

Beets are a biennial plant, and they will cross pollinate. If you want to keep seeds true to their parent plants, varieties must be separated by 1/2 mile from similar crops the second year when going to seed.

Plants are frost tolerant and will overwinter in mild climates if well mulched. In northern climates, trim leaves to 5cm and store roots in slightly damp sawdust or sand in a root cellar over the winter. Roots are stored 4-6 months at 32-40˚F. Replant in the spring and harvest seed heads when dry.

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