Beets

Detroit Dark Red beet Beta vulgaris

History: Until the 1800s, beets were referred to as blood turnips because of their red turnip-like roots. The round and flat-bottomed beets of today are an improved form.

Culture: Beets should be grown in a light loam of pH 6.5 to 7.0. If soil pH is below 6, sprinkle limestone or wood ashes in the row as you plant; otherwise, yield will be seriously impaired. An even supply of moisture and absence of extended periods of hot weather is necessary for development of fine-quality roots. In dry, hot weather beets can become tough and stringy and must be harvested at an earlier stage. Sow seeds 1/2 in. deep directly in the garden from March through early June and again in early September. Late spring and early fall sowings should be 3/4 in. deep. Sowing beets in deep summer heat is difficult - young seedlings wilt and disappear, and even thick sowings may have only spotty survival. Thin to 6 plants per foot for fresh beets, 3 plants per foot for beets used for winter storage, in rows 12 in. apart.

Seed Savers: Plants are biennial. Isolate by 1/4 mile. For pure seed isolate by a minimum of 1/2 to 1 mile. Crosses with chard.

Packet: Seed size varies considerably: 5g (unless noted, average 385 seeds) sows 31 ft.

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