Beet

Beet also called beetroot, common beet, or garden beet, one of the four cultivated forms of the plant Beta vulgaris of the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae). Beets are native to Mediterranean and some European regions. Both the root and the greens are high in vitamins and nutrients.



The beet plant is a fast-growing vegetable that can be grown just about anywhere. Although beets are known as a root crop, all parts of the beet plant are edible. Tender beet greens can be harvested when thinning a row of beets, and mature leaves make good greens when it's time to pull up the whole plant.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

1 - 3 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

18 - 24 inches


Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.0


Growth Nutrition of Beet


The higher nutritional requirements for beet root were K, N and P as macronutrient and Mn, Zn and Fe for the micronutrients. The nitrogen, potassium and manganese absorption by beet root is rapid, being high from the 15 days after transplant. The decreasing order of the nutrients accumulated by the beet root was: K, N, P, Mg, Ca and S for the macronutrients and Mn, Zn, Fe, B and Cu for the micronutrients.


Varieties of Beets


Heirloom Beet Varieties


Heirloom beets are varieties that have been around for decades, cultivated by gardeners over the years. Most often, heirloom beets are known for the best flavor and pest resistance. Here are some of the most popular heirloom beet varieties.


Bull’s Blood: This is an heirloom beet variety that produces burgundy-purple leaves rather than the typical greens that you might associate with beets. Gardeners rave about Bull’s Blood beets for salads because they have the right color and a great size for it. It does produce smaller roots than other varieties, measuring 3-4 inches. It takes around 58 days to reach full size.


Detroit Dark Red: The first type of beets we had to include was Detroit Dark Red because it’s hands-down one of the most popular variety on the market today. It is great for fresh eating or canning and pickling. It’s known for being a great storage heirloom beet that grows good-sized roots that mature in 60 days. The roots are a deep red, and the greens are edible and delicious. While they might be slow to start, once they begin to grow, there is no stopping them.


Sangria: Here is an open-pollinated variety that is ready to harvest in 55 days after you plant them in the ground. They’re one of the most bolt-tolerant choices. That means it does well for hot climates or areas that have largely fluctuating temperatures. Sangria beets come out an intensely red color, and you can harvest them as small, baby beets or as mature roots. They don’t get too tough if you leave them in the ground for longer than planned.


Sweetheart: Sweetheart is a lovely beet that has foliage tinted an emerald color. You can expect Sweetheart beets to mature in 58 days, and they produce extra-sweet, delicious roots. Not only can you use the roots, but the tops make delicious greens.


Forono: Here we have a sweet, cylindrical beet called Forono that has a nickname of “Cook’s Delight.” It’s an Italian heirloom that grows 5-8 inch long roots that are 2-3 inches wide. You should plan to harvest these beets younger rather than leaving them for too long.


Early Wonder Tall Top: Based on its name, you probably can guess that it is an early-maturing variety. Early Wonder beets mature in 50 days. It’s an all-around delicious beet, forming 3-4 inch globes. You can use it in salads, soups, or pickled. You can try roasting, boiling, or grating them.


Ruby Queen: In 55 days, you can have a beet with short tops that measure around 10 inches in height. Ruby Queen is prized for its consistent growth; all of the roots are round and smooth with an evenly-red interior. Ruby Queen is well known as one of the best canning beets. It has a pleasant, mild, sweet flavor that thrives in nearly all conditions. That makes it an excellent choice for all home gardeners and home food preservers.


Mammoth Red Mangel Beet: These take 100 days to mature; some of them have reached up to 40 pounds and 6 feet long. Not only is Mammoth Red delicious for your dinner, but it’s also a popular livestock feed that was commonly used in the 1800s. It can be a fodder crop if you have a homestead.



Hybrid Beet Varieties


Like any hybrid plant, these are plants that were bred together for different characteristics. It could be the color, disease resistance, or production rate. New hybrids come out all the time.


Warrior: Warrior is a newer hybrid beet on the market, and it was created to have a lovely deep red color on the inside and outside. At the same time, Warrior beets are tender and sweet. It takes around 57 days to reach maturity, and you’ll find the roots to be globe-shaped and smooth with green tops that are tinged red.


Red Ace: Red Ace matures in the garden in 55 days. It grows roots the size of a fist, on average, that tends to taste sweeter than other types. It is resistant to leaf spot and it doesn’t get pity, even if you let it grow too big.


Pacemaker: Pacemaker Beets creates medium to large-sized beets that have a deep red color inside and outside. These are slow to bolt if exposed to higher temperatures.


Moulin Rouge: Moulin Rouge is a hybrid cultivar with deep magenta roots that you cancan enjoy both fresh or cooked. With a rich and succulent texture, one- to two-inch globes of gloriousness have a sweet, rich, “beety” flavor. Baby roots can be harvested after just 35 days, or leave them in the ground for 55-60 days for mature roots.


Merlin: Probably the sweetest of the red-rooted beets, ‘Merlin’ is an F1 hybrid cultivar bred for high sugar content, disease resistance, and both heat and cold tolerance. Crisp when raw, and delectably tender when cooked, ‘Merlin’ will enchant with his exceptional sweetness. Even the glossy, dark green tops are delicious. Three to four-inch perfectly round roots are ready to harvest after 55 days, and you can enjoy the crimson-stemmed greens after 30-40 days.


Miniature Beet Varieties


Mini beets are adorable! Who doesn’t love these perfectly round beets that are small, typically measuring less than 2 inches in diameter. There aren’t too many varieties, but here are the most popular picks.


Little Ball: Often called Baby Ball, this is a mini version that produces red, round beets that only measure 1-1.5 inches. It takes 55 days to mature, and not only can you harvest the root ball, but you also can harvest the greens.


Baby Beat: Here is the true queen of miniature beets. Baby Beat is a real mini, baby beet that is well-proportioned despite its small size. It forms an excellent, round shape with a short taproot and smooth skin from early in its growth. You can use this variety for cooking or steaming, and the short tops are great to toss into salads.


Specialty Beet Varieties


When you think of beets, you probably imagine red beets that are solid colored and round. With specialty varieties, you might find green or yellow or white beets or ones that are striped instead of a solid color.


Green Top Bunching: It has bright red roots with superior tops for greens and it does take more time for these beets to be ready to harvest, taking nearly 65 days.


Giant Yellow Eckendorf Beet: This heirloom beet has a unique look that makes it stand out in the garden or at the market. Developed in the 1920s, Giant Yellow produces large, smooth, long, cylindrical-shaped roots that can weigh up to 20 pounds each. Around two-thirds of the beet grows above ground. While the outside of these beets is yellow, the flesh is solid white. Not only are they great for eating, but Giant Yellow Beets are great to grow for animal food. It was traditionally used as food for farm animals on small homesteads who needed cheap ways to feed their animals.


Sugar Beets: This is a white beet cultivar, and most white beets can be used to make sugar. Sugar beets have the highest sugar content, and they’re also one of the biggest varieties of beets. Due o their size, it also can take up to 100 days for these beets to mature.


Cylindria: Cylindria produces long, tapered, cylinder-shaped roots of average to moderate sizes. Due to the slightly larger size, it does take more time for these beets to be ready to harvest, taking nearly 60 days on average. Cylindria beets are delicious for pickling or salads.


Touchstone Gold: Gold beets tend to be less gritty and have a palatable taste for people who don’t commonly eat beets. Touchstone Gold is a new heirloom variety that is gaining popularity quickly. It has a gold flesh with yellow rings, and it keeps its color well, even after you cook them. Touchstone beets bled less into your foods than other ones.


Golden: Golden is the original gold beet variety, but it is often called Golden Detroit. Compared to other types, Golden Detroit has smaller roots, and it’s quite versatile in all the different ways you can use it in the kitchen. In 55 days, the beets reach maturity and will be ready to be added to salads or cooked for dinner.


Chioggia: Chioggia is one of the most commonly selected specialty beets that gardeners choose, but it does go by different names. You might know it by “Candy Stripe” or “Bassano”. Chioggia is a striped variety of beets. It’s striped white and red – a real showstopper. Chioggia matures in around 50 days.


Avalanche: Avalanche is an open-pollinated white cultivar with a sweet, mild flavor. An All-America Selections winner in 2015, the creamy-white roots have all the sweetness of a red beet with no hint of bitterness. The mild flavor and crunchy texture makes them ideal for slicing raw in salads, and they are delicious roasted or added to soups and stews. ‘Avalanche’ will convert even the most vocal beet-haters in your family into fans. My tip: pretend it’s not a beet when you prepare these.


White Detroit: With all the distinctive taste of a red beet but no staining, ‘White Detroit’ has creamy-white, three-inch roots with a sweet yet hearty flavor. This heirloom cultivar matures in 55 days and roots can be harvested early for baby beets.


Burpee Golden: This heirloom cultivar was introduced – you guessed it – by the Burpee Seed Company in 1970. Glorious two-inch golden globes with yellow flesh and a sweet, mild flavor mature in just 55 days. Tender green leaves with yellow stems can be harvested after 40 days.



Planting Beets


When to Plant


When planting in the spring, wait until the soil has warmed to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can sow successive plantings roughly every two to three weeks as long as the daytime temperature isn't above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plant your beets in the summer or fall, be sure to leave at least a month before your first expected frost from your last seeding. In warm climates, you might even be able to plant in the fall for a winter harvest.


Selecting a Planting Site


Beets are easy to grow from seed in the ground or in containers. They need a sunny spot with good soil drainage. Aim to plant them somewhere away from Swiss chard and spinach, as the plants are relatives susceptible to the same pest and disease issues.

Spacing, Depth, and Support


Plant seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart, and space rows about a foot apart. The seeds should only be about 1/2 inch deep. When seedlings reach 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them to around 4 inches apart. A support structure won’t be necessary.


Growing Beets


How to Grow Beets in Pots


Their compact growth habit makes beets a good choice for containers. And container growth is a good option if you don't have the garden space or the right soil conditions to successfully grow beets. The pot should be at least 12 inches deep and 12 to 24 inches wide across the top. Make sure it has holes in the bottom to provide good drainage. Small varieties of beets, including 'Mini Ball' and 'Baby Ball', do particularly well in containers.


How to Grow Beets From Seed


The beet seeds that come in packets are really clumps of four to six seeds. You can plant the whole clump and thin the seedlings when they are a few inches tall, or you can try to separate the clumps into individual seeds before planting. The safest way to do this is to gently run a rolling pin over the clumps—but be careful not to crush the seeds. Most gardeners find it easier to simply thin the young greens. You can eat the thinned leaves in salads. To prevent damage to the roots of the plants staying in the ground, thin seedlings by cutting them at the soil line with scissors or shears; do not pull them up.


Beet seeds can be slow to germinate because of their tough outer shell. Soaking the seed clusters overnight will help to soften the shell and speed germination. Germination will take about a week in soil above 50 degrees Fahrenheit or up to three weeks in cooler soil.


Beet Plant Care


Light


Beets prefer to grow in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, they can tolerate some light shade.


Soil


A light, rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH is best. Rocks, clay, weeds, and anything else that can interfere with root development should be removed. Moreover, beets need boron in the soil to prevent black heart, a condition that causes deformed leaves and corky black spots on the roots. You can provide boron by using compost or seaweed extract as a soil amendment.


Water


Provide at least 1 inch of water every week. Mulching will help to keep the soil from drying out and getting too warm.


Temperature and Humidity


Beets are not quite as cold-tolerant as some cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, but they can tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Humidity also typically isn't an issue as long as proper soil moisture is maintained and there's air flow around the plants to help inhibit fungal growth.


Fertilizer


If your soil is not rich in organic matter, supplemental feeding will be necessary starting about two weeks after the beets emerge. Any good vegetable fertilizer will do, following label instructions.


Pollination


Beets are primarily pollinated by the wind, with flowers not appearing until the plant's second year as it completes its life cycle. As most gardeners grow beets as annuals, not biennials, pollination is not a factor.


Harvesting Beets


Beets take around 55 to 70 days after planting to mature. You can start harvesting beet greens once the plants reach around 3 to 4 inches tall. The greens are most tender before they reach 6 inches, and they can be eaten raw or cooked. Be sure to leave some leaves on the plants, as they’re necessary for root development. Beetroots are ready to harvest when they’re around 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Larger roots will be tougher and more fibrous.

Harvest the beetroots by loosening the soil and gently pulling them out. Leave at least 1 inch of the stem to avoid bleeding during cooking.

Beets are ideal root cellar vegetables and can be stored for three to four months packed in sand or sawdust in a cool, dry spot. Beets can also be canned, pickled, or frozen. Fresh beets will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Pruning and Propagating Beets


Pruning


Pruning isn't necessary for beet plants beyond thinning seedlings and trimming off leaves as needed to eat. Also, trim off any broken leaves that are dragging on the ground, as they can introduce pests and diseases to the plant.


Propagating Beets


Beets are one of the many vegetables than can be propagated via scraps. This is an inexpensive, quick, and easy way to get a second harvest of leaves. However, you won’t get bulb regrowth from it. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the leaves from the beet, and use them for cooking. Also, remove most of the beetroot, but save the top part (no more than a third of the beet overall).

  2. Put the top part in a shallow dish of water with the cut side facing down. Place the dish by a sunny window.

  3. Change the water every day or two. You should see new leaf growth in a few days.

  4. Start harvesting leaves in about a week as needed. The beet will keep growing leaves for several weeks.


Potting and Repotting Beets


A potting mix formulated especially for vegetables is ideal for beets. It's best to pot beets in a container that will accommodate their mature size to avoid having to repot. That way, you won't have to disturb the sensitive roots.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Many of the common problems with beets are shared by other root vegetables, such as potatoes. In addition to black heart, caused by a boron deficiency (described above), be on the lookout for:

  • Bacterial infections: A variety of soil bacteria can cause discolored spots on leaves, which can gradually infect the roots. Affected plants should be removed, and rotate crops the next season. Do not plant beets in garden space previously occupied by potatoes.

  • Viral infections: Various viruses, often transmitted by leafhopper insects, can cause twisted, distorted leaves. Combat viruses by planting resistant varieties and fighting leafhoppers with pesticides.

  • Fungal infections: Similar to bacteria, fungal infections cause small brown or gray spots to cover the leaves. To prevent, rotate crops every two to three years. At the first sign of infection, apply a fungicide.

  • Root rot: Usually caused by the Fusarium fungus, root rot causes the above-ground foliate to wilt, as though in need of water, while the underground roots begin to rot away. Root rot tends to appear in cycles; two or three disease-free years might be followed by a bad season where many plants are affected. Root rot can be minimized by keeping your garden weed-free and by avoiding overwatering. Affected plants should be removed.

  • Insect pests: Watch for leaf miners, leafhoppers, flea beetles, aphids, and caterpillars. Pests usually are identified by ragged holes left when they feed on leaves. Use an appropriate pesticide, or pick off pests by hand.


Benefits of Beets


Beets have many helpful plant compounds that reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage. Some of the other health benefits of beetroot include:


Increase Stamina


Beetroot and its juice help your heart and lungs work better during exercise. Nitric oxide from beets increases blood flow to your muscles. Some athletes eat beetroot or drink beet juice when exercising to improve their performance.


Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke


Beets are rich in folate (vitamin B9) which helps cells grow and function. Folate plays a key role in controlling damage to blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.


Lower Blood Pressure


Beets are naturally high in nitrates, which are turned into nitric oxide in the body. This compound lowers blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to relax and widen.


Boost Your Immune System


Beets are high in fiber and promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Having plenty of healthy bacteria in your digestive system helps fight disease and boost your immune system. Fiber also improves digestion and reduces the risk of constipation.


May Have Anti-Cancer Properties


The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent, thought to help suppress the development of some types of cancer including bladder cancer.


Pregnancy


Beetroot is one of the best vegetables that an expectant mother can have. This is because it contains folic acid, which is imperative for the proper formation of an unborn baby’s spinal cord. As such, it also helps to prevent conditions such as spina bifida.


Beet Greens Promote Healthy Teeth


Beet greens are high in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D for promoting strong teeth. Foods high in calcium and magnesium help to build strong enamel which prevents cavities. Vitamin D is essential for aiding calcium absorption. Improve the health of your teeth by eating more foods (like beet greens) rich in calcium, minerals (like magnesium), and Vitamin D.


Skincare and the Aging Process


Antioxidants and phenolic compounds are found in high quantities within beetroot. This is good news because both help to remove free radicals from your system as well as prevent DNA and cell damage. This is beneficial for your skin because destroying free radicals means that it will be protected from premature aging.


Beetroot also contains anti-inflammatory properties that will further help to prevent aging and age-related diseases.


Brain Function


Beetroot has an astounding effect on brain function, particularly in older members of the population. It helps to increase blood flow to the brain, which subsequently can assist in fighting off dementia. In addition to this, the vegetable can improve cognitive functions in people of all ages.


Uses

  • Usually the deep purple roots of beetroot are eaten boiled, roasted, or raw, and either alone or combined with any salad vegetable.

  • The young leaves can be added raw to salads, whilst the mature leaves are most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case they have a taste and texture similar to spinach.

  • People use beet most often for athletic performance.

  • A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beetroot or into pickles.

  • Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colorant, to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, candy, and breakfast cereals.

  • Beetroot can be used to make wine.



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