How to Grow Red Beets: a Healthy Vegetable.
Red beets can save money in the kitchen budget.
Red beets are a smart vegetable to raise in the home vegetable garden. They can be planted early in the spring and at intervals throughout the growing season. Both the tops and the bottoms of the vegetable can be used in many gourmet recipes. Most importantly, red beets are one of the healthiest vegetables in the home garden.
The red beet tops can be harvested and used as a cooked green or eaten raw in salads. The colorful, red tops have as much or more iron than spinach, according to some reports. The leaves, because they are high in magnesium, are also good to add to the compost pile.
The beet root itself is high in many vitamins particularly C, and minerals such as potassium and calcium, and necessary fibers. Red beets are one vegetable to consider for high nutritional value.
Red beets are the sweetest vegetable in the home vegetable garden. Commercially, red beets are used to produce more sugar in the United States than sugar cane. Despite their sweetness, red beets are a somewhat maligned vegetable.
Red beets can be used in a wide range of recipes. Some cooks claim that oven baked beets are the best because the vegetable retains it's sweet flavor. They do not freeze well raw but will be fine if they are cooked somewhat and then frozen for future use.
They can be pickled, used in pickled egg recipes, the beet can be chopped and used in salads or other dishes and beet juice is the staple ingredient in borscht soup and vegetable drinks. Red beets can even be used in red cake recipes and baked into chips.
Red beets are commonly known as as a red root crop. However, red beets come in other colors such as white, yellow and orange. There is even a variety called “Chiogga” which is a candy cane striped variety. They all taste very similar and all have equal health benefits.
Red beets seeds, which are rather large, are usually sown directly into the garden or can be planted in containers. The red beet seeds, actually a fruit, have several seeds clumped together which will sprout. These extras need to be thinned to encourage growth.
Soil conditions for red beets are basic. They do best in loamy well worked soil with organic materials added. Like many vegetables, red beets like a sunny spot in a well drained area. A raised bed system is perfect for this valuable vegetable.
Red beets can be planted in the early spring and enjoy cooler temperatures. The seed should be planted about ½ inch deep in the soil, an inch apart and in rows about a foot, depending on the garden layout.
Once the seeds have sprouted, normally in a week depending on weather conditions, and the bed is thinned, a layer of organic mulch helps to retain soil moisture. Once the red beets have reached about two inches in diameter, they can be harvested; there is no reason to peel them at this stage since the skin is very tender.
Companion planting is the ancient practice of planting vegetables and flowers in close proximity which help each other to grow. Red beets enjoy growing with bush beans, but not the runner or pole bean varieties. Red beets enjoy grow with lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, garlic and all the bracissas,
Most varieties reached maturity between 50 and 60 days. For a continuous crop, it is best to plant beets every two weeks. There are some varieties, Lutz is one, which can can remain in the ground throughout the growing season and will retain their sweetness and flavor despite their larger size.
Red beets are usually not prone to insect damage or diseases. However, aphids and flea beetles can be a problem. These insects can easily be controlled with homemade organic sprays or by practicing organic companion plantings. If the roots show dark spots, it is usually an indication of a soil deficiency.
Red beets are a colorful addition to both garden and the kitchen table. Properly cooked, they can be used in many tasty meals and help to save money in the kitchen budget.