How to grow and harvest beetroot

How to grow and harvest beetroot

Beetroots really are one of the easiest things to grow from seed and you will succeed even if you're a total beginner gardener. They're like radishes, you can just direct sow them into the ground or you can sow them into a gutter pipe which is what we tend to do. You just want to fine till the soil and then you can just transplant them out or direct sow them quite densely packed and then you can thin them and eat your thinnings.

You don't want to start harvesting at the end of the row and just carry on willy-nilly because you'll get lots of different sizes in one row. Instead, go back to your patch again and again removing the bigger ones. Apart from that, beetroots don't really need much water, they don't need any TLC; they just get on and grow themselves.

You can sow them in the garden anytime from April and the last sowing I do is probably about mid-July, then I'll be picking them and harvesting them right the way through almost until Christmas. Beetroots are really good in July. We sowed these in late spring and we actually sewed them into gutter pipes and then transplanted them straight to here.

I love beetroot in three colours and that's what makes it look more fun on the plate. I also make drinks and things out of beetroot as well so it's lovely having the three different colours.

This is a variety called ‘Chioggia’ or ‘Candy Stripe’ and when you cut into it you'll see the flesh is stripy - pink and white - and you can see that from the stem.  When you're harvesting beetroots, go through your patch and have a little rummage and you’ll find the bigger ones are starting to push themselves slightly out of the ground. You should be able to see the ones that are ready to harvest. You don't want to start at the beginning of the row and just harvest down the row because you will then end up taking really small ones out which is a bit of a waste unless you want baby beetroot.  You really want to pick them when they're the right size, when they're really tender, but they're not too small so you're not wasting them.

This one is the beautiful ‘Burpees Golden’ which is a lovely orange colour. You can just tell when they’re ready because they push themselves a bit higher than the rest and then you know that they've got to a good size.

Finally, I'm going to move on to the ‘Boltardy’ which are purple. These were definitely sown at the same time but have been a bit slower to grow.

What I always do is wash them here with a tap in the garden into a bucket and then just chuck the bucket with the soil onto the garden rather than bringing all the soil into the sink, blocking your drains. This way the soil just returns straight to the garden and that's much easier and you don't waste it. Actually, these have got almost no soil on them because it's been so dry. When it gets wetter in the autumn you'll find that they’re a bit muckier. 

I'm going to actually use the green as well as the root in the recipe. I'm going to wilt the green down and use it almost like spinach and I'm going to boil the roots for about 30 minutes until they're soft. Then I'm going to dress them in a yoghurt and tahini dressing with a bit of hazelnut toasted over the top.

Happy gardening,


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