Beets are in general a hassle free plant to grow. You can grow beetroot seeds in most soil conditions and in a short space of time you can enjoy a harvest of baby roots or, if you are willing to wait a further week or two, feast on large 8 to 10cm spherical roots.
Because beetroot is a popular choice among gardeners there are lots of varieties to choose from, and below are some suitable varieties:
Red Ace – Good for its large roots. At time of harvest, roots can reach 12 – 15cm across
Detroit Crimson – These are early or main crop beetroot and are grown for their deep red outer skin and pink / white flesh
Golden Beetroot – Offers something different from the usual red beetroot while still packing the same sweet flavours. Leaves are also suited to use in salads so nothing goes to waste
Boltardy – As the name suggests, these are chosen for their bolt resistant qualities.
If you are going boltardy you probably don’t need to read it article!
If you did not choose the latter, then you may experience issues with your beetroot going to seed. This process of bolting in plants is when a plant no longer puts its energy into developing its vegetative parts, but instead focuses on developing a flower and then seed.
Bolting will occur under stressed conditions and at a point when a plant fears for this future. At this point the vegetable, and in this case the beetroot turns its attention to reproducing an offspring to ensure its ‘survival’. This plants often grow tall and leggy very quickly to the detriment of the rest of the plant. Roots remain small and underdeveloped, leaves shrivel up and wither.
To avoid bolting in beetroot seeds there are a few things to consider:
Plant after around three weeks after the last frost, this will ensure seedlings are protected from the cold. You can start them indoors under cover and move them out into rows approx. 10cm apart.
Sow thinly so that there is minimal root disturbance when thinning the rows. This will stand for the plants later in the summer when water is scarce and plants are at risk of drought.
In general beetroot is not susceptible to drought and they certainly do not like sitting in overly wet soils. If the soil is too wet they can develop small roots and large leafy canopies, which is no good to anyone.
Beetroots are more content in cooler conditions. If the weather become too warm, such as in mid summer the plants have a tendency to bolt. Try to shade the crops or cover with a light netting to keep the temperatures down
If your Beetroot starts to bolt you need to get out and nip it in the bud and pick the developing flower off as soon as possible. This can slow down the process of bolting and allow time for the roots to develop. But usually, once a plant has started to bolt there is no going back.