It's the root of every great hamburger

WHY not grow your own beetroot? They are so easy and you can grow them all year round in our climate.

Where to plant: From full sun to dappled shade, beetroot aren’t all that fussy. They will do better in the sun in winter, though. Plant them in polystyrene fruit boxes and you can move then around to wherever you want.

Soil type: Being a root crop, beets require a rich, well-drained soil, deep enough for them to develop. Lots of organic matter and good drainage are essential. If your soil isn’t well drained, you might want to consider building a raised garden bed to overcome the problem.

Getting started: Beetroot can be grown from seed or by seedling. For seed, first soak them in water overnight. Make a 2cm deep trench in your well-prepared soil and place seeds about 2cm apart. Cover seed with seed-raising mix or some other light material. Soil is okay as long as it is light and fluffy. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.

After about two weeks, shoots should begin to appear, depending on what sort of germination rate you have achieved. You may need to thin the plants out at this stage. Each plant will need about 6-8cm to develop in. If you’re the impatient type, just buy a punnet of seedlings from your garden centre.

What to feed them: The faster beetroot grows the tastier and more tender it will be. To give them a good start, whack in some Organic Extra at planting time then follow up with liquid seaweed as the plant develops. Do not use high-nitrogen fertilisers as this will only promote lots of leaf growth. It’s the root you want to grow.

What about water? Water deeply and keep the soil around emerging seedlings damp. Regular watering will help keep the beets from going woody but don’t flood them.

When to dig: Don’t let them get too big before you harvest them or they will get really tough and tasteless. Check the diameter of the crown, it’s easily visible above the soil, and dig before it reaches 6-7cm. It will generally take about 10 weeks from planting seed before beetroot are ready to begin harvesting.

Pests: Beetroots are amazingly pest free. You may get the occasional grasshopper or caterpillar nibbling on the leaves but they don’t usually do much damage. Too much water is one of the few things that will bother beetroot, so just make sure you have a well-drained soil to start with.

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