Why Grow it?
Like spinach, beetroot is another superfood that is very easy to grow in your own garden. The beta cyanin in beetroot can help detox your liver and reduce high blood pressure. It is packed with nutrients like folic acid, phosphorous and magnesium and is particularly high in vitamin C and iron – this is a great combination since vitamin C increases iron absorption. Beetroot also contains betaine, which enhances the production of the body's natural mood-lifter seratonin. Many people have an aversion to beetroot but it deserves a second chance, for it is a fine root crop, that is (a) easy to grow, (b) can be eaten all year round since it stores well and (c) is incredibly good for you.
Sow in module trays (for careful planting out about a month after sowing) – two seeds per module. When the seedlings are 1 inch high, remove all but one of them in each module. Sow every two weeks from April until July (for a continuous supply). The last batch in July is for winter storage to be harvested in October.
Beetroot likes a deep soil, manured the previous winter. Apply organic fertiliser about a week before planting out. Young beetroot seedlings are sensitive to cold spells so protect with fleece if required. Don't overwater.
Start to harvest when they are golf ball size – leaving every second one behind to fully mature. Do not let beets grow larger than a tennis ball. You can also harvest some of the leaves for salads but not too many as the root needs the leaves too. Twist off leaves a few centimetres above root before storing..
GIY Recommended Varieties
Pablo F1, Detroit Globe. www.giyireland.com/shop.
* Wrap 8-10 small beetroot in tinfoil (leave the skins on) and bake them in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes. When they are tender, run them under a cold tap and simply rub off the skins. Sprinkle with some balsamic vinegar and eat immediately – a revelation!
* Beetroot doesn't like dry soil, which causes "woody" roots (very unpleasant to eat). Keep soil moist in dry weather and/or mulch to conserve moisture.
Watch a GIY video tutorial on growing beetroot here: www.giyireland.com/videos/detail/beetroot