Beetroot is a good source of inorganic nitrate, a precursor to nitrate oxide which is important to vascular and metabolic functioning. Studies have shown that nitrate oxide can improve exercise performance (1) as well as brain function (2). Moreover, this edible plant is a good source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds known as betalains. Betalains have beneficial effects on arthritis, diabetes, as well as liver disorders [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Beet’s pharmaceutical utility is one of the great reasons why you should grow it. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll also definitely enjoy beets. I like to classify it as one of nature’s candy. I crave beet juice and salad every spring and fall season when this crop produces its sweetest and most flavorful yield. Scroll down below to get some tips on how to grow beets.
Guide to Growing Beets
Beets are pretty easy to grow, but it doesn’t tolerate heat and dry soil. It’s best to sow seeds in early spring or late summer since the roots are sweeter when harvested in cool weather. If you have a lot of filtered light in your garden, try growing beets since its a shade-tolerant crop.
It’s ideal to start seeds outdoors because beets are not suited for transplant. When choosing a growing medium, stick with a sandy loam or silty loam soil with a neutral pH level. Make sure to remove any large debris such as rock and large bark that can obstruct root growth. Beets also thrive in moist soil, so do not allow the soil to dry since leaves can quickly wilt. On the other hand, it’s also important not to overwater to avoid rot.
Once you have a healthy growing medium, its time to grow beets. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, 1 inch apart, in rows spaced 8-10 inches apart. Firm soil on top to ensure that seeds germinate, then water thoroughly. When large enough to handle, thin beets so that they are at least 3-4 inches apart.
If you can’t get enough of beets, you can find ways to grow it year round so long as your located in a temperate zone. If you sow seeds in areas partly shaded, you can grow beets even in mid-summer.
Harvest and Use
After thinning and harvest, save the greens for salads. I also occasionally snap a few leaves during the growing season. Harvest beetroots when they reach 2 inches or more in diameter. The top of the root typically sticks out so it’s easy to guess its size. When cooking beetroots, you can steam, boil, bake, and roast it as you would a potato. I like to boil it, cut it in cubes, and store it in the fridge for a sweet addition to my salads. To find a beetroot salad recipe, click on this link. If you have a bountiful harvest, try juicing it for a healthy and detoxifying beverage. When roasted, it’s even sweeter, and can be a great nutritious alternative for your sweet tooth.