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From Garden to Plate: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Delicious Beets

From Garden to Plate: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Delicious Beets

Beets are a cool-season crop that is super easy to grow and highly nutritious. Everything from the root to the greens of the beet plant is edible, making it a valuable addition to any survival garden.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beet juice is highly nutritious

The nutritional value of beets is impressive. They are low in calories but contain a bit of almost every vitamin and mineral your body needs. They are especially high in Folate (Vitamin B-9) which is important for red blood cell formation and heart health. Beets are also high in Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Potassium.

Studies have shown that beetroots can help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and improve athletic performance by increasing stamina and blood flow. They can help boost your immune system and promote gut health due to the beet’s high fiber content and ability to promote good bacteria in your gut.

Growing Beets

Beets are best sown directly into the garden rather than started indoors to avoid disturbing the roots once established. Beets can be sown in your Spring garden as soon as the soil is warm enough to be worked. They can survive frost and near-freezing temperatures, so they also make a great Fall crop.

You’ll want to choose a sunny area of your garden that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Beets like fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, but they will tolerate slightly alkaline soil. They do not do well in acidic soils (pH below 6.0), so it is a good idea to test your soil and amend it properly.

Beets will generally germinate within 5 to 8 days in soil that is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If your soil is still cool, you can speed germination by soaking the seeds for 24 hours prior to sowing. In cooler soil, it may take a couple of weeks for germination to happen.

Growing beets

Beet seeds can be sown 1/2 inch deep and 2 to 4 inches apart depending on the variety. Rows should be about 12 to 18 inches apart. Be sure to check your seed packet for specific sowing instructions. Once the greens get to be about 4 to 5 inches tall, you should thin the young plants to be 3 to 4 inches apart by snipping off the greens. Don’t pull up the extra plants as that can damage the roots of the remaining ones. Besides, the young beet greens are tasty! Sow them in succession every 2 to 3 weeks until mid-Summer for an extended harvest.

Harvesting Beets

Most varieties of beets will mature in 50 to 70 days or about 2 months after sowing. You can harvest greens just about anytime, beginning with the initial thinning of the seedlings. Just take one or two leaves per plant until the greens become about 6 inches tall. At that point, they become tough and not as tasty. The roots won’t mature if you take all the leaves, so be sure to leave enough.

You can harvest the beetroot of most varieties when they get to be about the size of a golf ball or larger. Don’t let them go too long or they may become woody and tough. Simply loosen the soil around the root and pull it out gently.

Storing Beets

Pickled beets

Fresh beets can be stored in a cool dry place, like your refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 months. Do not rinse them; simply brush off excess dirt and cut off all but about 2 inches of the stem.

For longer-term storage, they can be kept in a root cellar or other cool, dry, dark location in a bed of peat moss, sawdust, or sand. Rub off excess soil and remove the leaves, then take a sturdy box and fill it with a couple of inches of moss, sawdust, or sand. Layer the beets on top of each other in the box, then cover them with another layer of your chosen storage material so the beets are covered by about 2 inches.

For long-term storage, beets are great pickled or frozen. To freeze, you must blanch the beets, then peel them before freezing. To pickle beets, you will peel and boil the beets until tender and then combine them with your preferred brine and can with a pressure canner. Beets will last about a year in your freezer and pickled beets will generally last 1 to 2 years if properly canned.

Beets can be an abundant source of nutrition, making a delicious and colorful addition to your meals. Whether you prefer roasted, pickled, or boiled, the versatility of beets makes them an excellent choice of vegetable to grow in your survival garden.

Beets fresh from the garden