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In Your Garden: All about beets


Cylindra beets are ready to eat in 55 to 60 days. They look like a fat, snub nosed carrot about 2 inches around. The skin is thin, deep purple red. The flesh is fine-textured and almost never woody.  The tops are tenderer than most other beets.

Bull’s Blood is grown mostly for its rich, flavorful, beautiful tops. They go from green to a vibrant dark red and are ready to eat at 35 days. The beets need 60 days and are nearly round. The flavor is not the best but they can be used for pickles if you lean that way.

Chioggia is an early beet; 45 to 55 days. This is an Italian heirloom. It is sweet, and not your usual red. It has rings of white and bright pink. Steam them lightly to prevent “bleeding.” The tops are a paler color than the other 2 and have the taste and texture of fine, young Swiss chard.

If you have never eaten beet greens, and you like cooked spinach or Swiss chard, you are in for a treat. They are milder flavored than either of the other 2 greens. They can be eaten raw, like spinach, braised or stir-fried, and are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that help keep your eyes healthy.

No matter what the color, red, gold or striped, they are full of cancer fighting nutrients.

If you are growing beets for its roots, plant it in the full sun. If you want tops, partial shade is fine. Since beets are a taproot, they do best in light sandy or loamy soil. If you have rocky or clay soil, either grow them in raised beds or expect a small, deformed root.

They like cool weather so plant them with the spinach, peas and radishes, 2 weeks before the last expected frost (that would be May 1st most years). Or, for a fall crop 2 months before the expected fall frost. Here, your guess is as good as mine.

To prevent overly strong flavor, keep the soil around them mulched. Hot soil equals bad beets.  Harvest the tops when they are young and tender. Be sure to leave enough leaves for the beets to develop enough sugars to sweeten the roots. If you have never grown or eaten beets, take a chance this year. Try them, you may like them. Petunia can’t get Bunkey to choke the roots down but he does like the tops in salads.

#Beets #BullsBlood #Chioggia #Cylindra

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