HOW TO GROW BEETROOT WITH KIDS
Beetroot is one of our favourite vegetables. We use it in soups, cakes, roasted hot with rosemary or grated onto salads.
It can be baked, dried into crisps, and eaten fresh or pickled into a jar. It’s also so good for you!
My toddler actually eats the baby beets stuck on a fork like a lolly pop.
Normally, it’s grown for the root, but we also eat the leaves like a baby salad leaf which means you don’t waste any thinnings.
WHY GROW IT?
It can be sown at regular intervals from March until the end of June (or later if you forget to sow in June like I did this year) which means it’s almost available almost all year round, we very often have some left to enjoy while we’re sowing the next year’s crop.
Beetroot has a reputation for being a sharp pickled concoction, but nowadays there is so many different ways to eat this vegetable its worth giving it a go. It doesn’t even come in one colour anymore, it can now be found in the traditional deep red shade, yellow, pink and white.
I especially like the Chioggia type which has white and pink rings if you slice it open. My favourite is the yellow, however, which has a very sweet flavour when it’s simply roasted with a little salt, oil and rosemary.
HOW TO GROW BEETROOT
Now, for the learning bit. Beetroot is such a wonderful vegetable to grow with kids as it has large corky seeds that’s easy to sow so not too fiddly for little fingers. It grows best on well drained sandy soils; however, it’s not really fussy and does well in my clay soil allotment.
Beetroot does best if it’s not shaded out with other plants. So give it some room of it’s own. It doesn’t need a plot though as you can happily grow baby beets in a pot.
- It’s recommended to dig in plenty of well-rotted garden compost in the autumn and dig in a little fertilizer in the spring before planting, however, I tend to just sprinkle a little blood fish and bone or the equivalent all round fertilizer before sowing and I find it does the job.
- If you have acid soil. You could sprinkle a little lime over the area in the autumn but this isn’t really necessary unless you have very acidic soil (I don’t do this step.)
- When the soil is warm enough around late March, make a shallow dent (drill) in the soil where ever you’re planting either in a large pot or in the soil.
- Beetroot seed is quite big and corky. It’s a great one for kids as it’s easy to handle, so sow one seed every 10 cm. (the length of a little ones hand) Remember beetroot seed is actually a cluster of seeds so for every seed you so you’ll get 4 or 5 seedlings which you’ll need to thin out the weaker shoots to leave the strongest ones to grow- this means more salad leaves for you to munch
- Cover with 2cm of soil and water softly. You can sow beetroot outdoors but if it’s still cool it’s possible to grow these in a cell trays and plant them out once they’ve germinated and growing well. A covering of fleece early on can help the seeds get off to a good start too.
Seeds should germinate within 14 days. Once the 3rd and 4th leaves appear then you can start to thin out the ones you don’t need. (The leaves have a slightly red tinge to them so you should see them against any weed seeds)
Remember to water around them once a week when its dry as this vegetable hates to dry out.
My daughter loves skipping around with the watering can sprinkling her fairy dust to help the beetroot grow!!
Harvesting is easy and can be done gradually. I take every second beetroot or the biggest ones around a golf ball size and roast these for dinner. This helps too thin the row out and make room for the others to grow bigger.
This way your roots aren’t getting too big and becoming woody. (Although I’ve eaten them a lot bigger than a tennis ball size and never had a woody one)
TWIST off the leaves -try not to cut them off as the juice of the beetroot can leak out.
Roots can then be stored long term in a box of damp sand but they keep fairly well for a few weeks it the bottom of my fridge.
USING OR COOKING
The traditional way is to twist off the leaves and boil in water for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then the skins just slide off and you can then pickle or eat them however you like.
I like them washed, split in half and roasted with carrots for 1 hour in olive oil, salt and rosemary. I also make various recipes with them and freeze the rest. All the men in my family love pickled baby beetroot so I make a lot of this.
I’ve also recently discovered a recipe of my grans for beetroot relish which is amazing.
My son’s favourite chocolate cake is a chocolate beetroot cake. Yes I did say chocolate cake!
So what do you think of Beetroot? Love it or hate it let me know. Do you have a favourite way of using this root?? Id love to hear your recipes.