Growing Beetroot

Latest Update 10th June 2017.

Beetroot
  • Grated raw beetroot make a healthy addition to your salad, and they are delicious roasted in their jackets while still young.  
  • Beetroot juice is considered by many health professionals to confer substantial health benefits. (read more).
  • Most of our crop is bottled in a sweet, spicey, pickling vinegar after softening in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes.  Its a tasty staple for salads in our household, and we can usually maintain a supply all year.
  • Beetroot softened in the pressure cooker and then roasted with parboiled carrots, pumpkin and potatoes is simply delicious.
Details
  • Variety:                                                    Crimson Globe.
  • Family group:                                           Chenopodiaceae.
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Light feeders.
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.5 - 7.5.
  • Minimum sun per day:                               5 hours.
  • Plant spacings (centres):                          190mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                     13 - 26 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                    Onions. silverbeet. lettuce. cabbage. dwarf beans.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere. 
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. 
  • It is a good source of vitamin C, iron and magnesium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.
  • More from nutrition data.self.com. 
Growing Conditions.
  • They grow best in full sun.
  • Beetroot can be grown all year round. 
  • They need well structured rich organic soil.
  • The soil must be kept moist at all times. 
Soil Preparation.
  • Clear a 300mm wide by 1500mm long row of old mulch and other debris.  Do not dig the soil.  Add a 60mm layer of thermal compost and cover it with 50mm of fresh straw mulch.  Transplant the new crop as soon as possible.
Growing Instructions. 
  • In February, soak the beetroot seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing.
  • Then sow a beetroot seed in each of 5 small fibre pots full of good quality organic potting mix.  Sow them about 20mm deep and then place the pots in a tray containing 15mm of dilute seaweed extract.  After about 10 minutes bury the pots up to their rim in the wicking media of an EcoPropagator.
  • Because each beetroot seed capsule contains up to 4 individual seeds, they need thinning to one seedling per pot.  Use a pair of sharp scissors to nip off the unwanted seedlings at ground level, as soon as they are big enough, so the soil is not disturbed by pulling them out.
  • When the beetroot seedlings are about 70mm tall, transfer their fibre pots into a prepared bed.  Plant all 5 seedlings in a single row 300mm apart.  Make a space through the mulch to expose the soil and bury the pots up to their rim.  Water them in once and cover the exposed soil with mulch.
  • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks with all the other edible plants.
Repeat Sowing.
  • Sow batches of beetroot in June, September and December ready for planting about 6 weeks later.  Protect the seedlings against extremes of weather.
  • Plant the beetroot seedlings when ready in a prepared bed and water in once. 
  • Its best not to grow beetroot more than once in the same ground each season.
Harvesting and Storage.
  • Beetroot can be harvested in May, September, December and February.
  • My current aim is to grow my beetroot to a full size, and that's why I now propagate just 5 plants in biodegradable pots which can be planted with the seedling in the growing bed.
  • Most of my beetroot crop is stored after pressure cooking for 30 minutes to soften them.  They are then skinned, sliced and packed in sterilised preserving jars.  The jars are placed in the pressure cooker and the beetroot slices are covered with hot sweet spicy pickling vinegar.  They need about 10 mins at 5psi in the pressure cooker to seal the lids onto the jars.  The rest is shredded and eaten raw in salads, made into cakes and/or roasted with other vegetables.
Organic Pest Control.
  • My beetroot are rarely subject to attack by pests or diseases, but in case such an event occurs, here are a few remedies.
  • Slugs and snails.
    • Beetroot should be protected against slugs and snails using self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of the Ecobed.
    • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with organically approved iron based snail pellets as soon as you discover them.  You should only need to use a small number of pellets.
  • Greenhouse whitefly.
    • Exclusion netting is very effective against whitefly, but they are very small and will occasionally breach your defences, so you will need to check your crop regularly.
    • Control any infestations by spraying your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia) as early in the whiteflies life cycle as possible.
    • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
  • Aphids (greenfly).
    • Use the same method as described above for whitefly.
  • Powdery mildew.  
    • If an infestation occurs, spray the beetroot's foliage with an organic horticultural fungicide (Eco-fungicide in Australia).
  • Root knot nematodes.
    • Organically active soil is the best deterrent for root knot nematode.  The beneficial microbes protect a plant's root surfaces by colonising them, and predatory microbes control the nematode numbers.
  • General.
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of beetroot by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.
    • Wire net tunnels stops birds digging up worms in your Ecobed, and protect the beetroot seedlings until they are large enough to withstand this behaviour.