Beets

 

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So I just planted my beets the other day, and in celebration I bought some from our local grocery store. I cooked them for about an hour in the oven and then chopped them up with some pears and nuts and put them in some mixed greens. It was a day to remember.

This is my first year growing beets and I decided to grow the Early Wonder variety. It’s a old heirloom variety dating back to pre-1811. Must be good if they’ve been haulin’ them around this long 😉

Here are some  facts about our little mediterranean native:

  • They are packed full of: potassium, folic acid, manganese, fiber, vitamin a, c, calcium, and iron
  • They are biennial- meaning they flower and set seed their second season
  • VERY cold hardy.
  • Sow directly into the ground, but soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours before placing in the soil. Helps with germination. (Which I didn’t do…shoot)
  • Each seed is actually a cluster of 2-6 seeds
  • Plants that reach maturity during hot weather will have less color and flavor. Dress your plants with compost and plant in the shade of another plant to secure your chances of a good harvest

Growing beets:

  • First off, pick a nice sunny location that has well drained soil
  • Amend your soil with organic material working it in to a depth of 8-10 inches
  • Sow seeds 2-4 inches apart, water well and add a thin layer of dressing. This helps to moderate soil moisture and temperature. *Keep beets watered well and you will have happy gardeners and happy beets*
  • Beets require lots of phosphorus to grow healthy large roots. If you run a soil test and you find in lacks in phosphorus give your plants a side dressing of bonemeal or rock phosphate. (Favored pH range for beets is 6.0-7.0)
  • Stop sowing seeds once the temperatures reach about 75 degrees, but start again 8 or so weeks before the first fall frost, for a late season harvest

Harvesting beets:

  • Beets taste best when they are 1.5-2.5 inches in diameter. After that they start to lose flavor and the texture becomes unappetizing
  • Beet greens can be harvested as soon as plants are an inch or two high. Older greens are best when steamed or sauteed.
  • When beets are ready to harvest, pull or dig them out then remove the tops by twisting them or cutting them off, being careful to leave a few inches of stem on the root to keep them from bleeding and losing their moisture. They can be stored this way, in the fridge for up to a week
  • For long term storage, layer the beets in damp sawdust or sand and keep in a moist cold root storage until ready to use

 

  • Beet seeds

 

 

Update

The ground is frozen and has about 10 inches of snow on it, with more still coming. I couldn’t pretend to garden even if I wanted to! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my blog until February (when I get my seeds going again.) The winter months here in Utah can be a little blue. The pollution settles in and the sun is often foggy, not to mention feet of snow covering everything. We try and get out and do things like cross country skiing and snow shoeing, but it’s just been so much colder than the last few winters! Plus it seems with it getting darker and colder all we ever want to do is eat soup and stay curled up in blankets!

I’ve also been looking into getting chickens this coming spring instead of expanding my garden area. I love the thought of not buying eggs that are being trucked thousands of miles just to get to my plate. And also  knowing that my chickens are being taken care of and loved with free room to roam and eat. My only real concern, and I know this shouldn’t be a HUGE issue, but I’m worried with the cold temperatures in the winter that I’ll wake up and all my chickens will be frozen to death! Talk about traumatizing. So, if anyone has recommendations of great books about raising chickens let me know!

We’re also working on opening a store through Etsy selling gardening baskets and possibly some other tools! They will be great for harvesting all your produce, carrying your weeds and scraps to the compost, and hopefully some baskets for your trips to the farmers market. We’ll start working on them in January and hopefully have some up for sale towards the middle of February.

Hope everyone is surviving the winter so far! I’ll post a few more updates on our store progress after Christmas 🙂