Beets Ideal For P.G.Climate
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, February 18, 2012 03:45 AM
Beets are known as a root vegetable but the tops are equally as edible and tasty.
Related to the chard family I don't know of many plants in the vegetable garden where the entire plant is eaten. Beets are eaten raw, cooked, roasted, baked, pickled and in Borscht. Not only are they good tasting but they are good for you. High in vitamins, calcium, potassium, folate and fibre and even though they are very sweet they are low in calories! It is a good choice for those homeowners who have limited space and want to get the most out of their garden, as they also do not take up a lot of space.
They grow very well in containers, but make sure that the container is at least 10-12 inches deep. Beets are a good looking plant with their colourful foliage and can be planted as part of your edible landscape too.
Beets are a cool weather crop and so our Prince George climate is ideal for growing them.
Sow the seed directly into the soil in early May when the soil temperatures have warmed up. A mild frost will not harm the young plants. Beets prefer a well drained soil that has been worked, removing any large lumps, rocks and other debris removed. Compost, or old rotted manure can be added to the soil.
When planting the seed you will notice that they are actually quite large and this is because it is a compound seed. There are actually 3-4 seeds in a cluster and so you can get more then one beet per seed. Plant seeds according to the instructions given on the packet. Usually 12-20 mm deep and then they are spaced to how large you want the beet to get. Beets can take a little of time to germinate depending on the temperature.
When the young seedlings are 5-7 cm high you can start to thin them out so that they are 8-10 cm apart. If you want small beets don't space them out as much. Don't throw out the young transplants as they are ideal for using in salads. To grow tender beets the plants need to be kept growing. Keep them well watered during dry spells. You can start harvesting beets whenever you want.
Beets come in different shapes and colours. The most common varieties are the round red types but there is also cylinder shaped beets and white and yellow beets. We have been growing the yellow (golden) beets in our garden at home and quite enjoy them. They seem to be sweeter and the nice thing about them is, is that they don't bleed like the red varieties do. We also grow the red varieties and our favourite is 'Detroit Red', but there are other varieties that grow well.
In the fall if you still have some beets leftover in the garden they can be harvested and placed in storage. Cut the tops off to within 5 cm from the root and leave the bottom tap root on to prevent them from bleeding and then store in a cold room, or root cellar. They can be stored for several months.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Garden Centres in Prince George
- Highway 97 north at Northwood Pulpmill Road
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
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