Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beets are Good Eats

Chioggia Beets.

Back in August I planted two short rows of Chioggia beets, an Italian heirloom that has a striped interior rather than the traditional beet red color.   I tried growing beets 2 years ago and only succeeded in growing greens with small roots, so this was my second attempt.  After some soil preparation I planted the seeds in 4-foot rows and kept them watered very well.  It wasn't very long before the seeds had germinated and I had greens reaching for the sun (and hopefully roots reaching for nutrients).  I kept a close eye on them and sure enough -- my plants actually looked like beets!

I decided to harvest them today because my taste buds ordered me to do it.  Based upon what I saw on top of the soil I figured I was in good shape.  But once I started harvesting them I noticed dozens of hairy roots all over the beets.  This was not what I was expecting.

Hairy Chioggia Beets.

I started to get sweaty and nervous as each beet I pulled yielded the same results.  Masses of hairy roots.  I decided to put my fear aside and harvest them all, let the taste of the beets do the talking.  After rinsing them, cutting and saving the greens for tomorrow, and slicing them open, I was quite pleased.  The interior revealed the classic swirl-like (some say bull's eye) pattern that makes the Chioggia so unique.

Quartered beets on a baking pan.

My wife also added some freshly picked carrots, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano, thyme, toasted walnuts, and salt and roasted them in the oven.  She topped off her bowl with chevre, and I opted to keep mine plain.  Goat cheese is a bit too goaty for me.

The final product.

The roasted beets and carrots were good eats for sure.  I'd definitely consider it a successful crop this season.  But I'm still wondering why my beets didn't look like what I expected them to look like.  Guess that means I need to hit the books and read more about soil preparation, watering, etc.  But as I always say, the most valuable information comes from actually attempting to grow things in the first place.  You'll never know if you don't try.


Mr. H. said...

Very nice beets. We often get hairy beets and carrots too depending upon where they have been planted. I think it might have something to do with the nitrogen levels in the soil.

.09 Acres said...

Mr. H, thanks for checking out the blog and offering some insights. I find it very helpful to talk to and learn from other gardeners. I just took a look at your blog and your garden/farm is amazing. Keep up the great work in Idaho.

Veggie PAK said...

I think your beets look wonderful. I planted Ruby Queen beets in my half-barrels on September 20th, and all I have is greens so far. They were supposed to reach maturity at 58 days, and it's been over 70 days now with no bulbs. It has been suggested that I leave them in the soil to give them a chance to "bulb up" due to the time of year I planted them. But, I understand that they are a cool weather crop, so I don't think that the time that I planted them in would make a difference.

Last year, I planted a 25 foot row of them and got one three ounce beet. There were greens, but no beets to speak of. The root wasn't even the diameter of the greens portion of the plants. My soil was analyzed before that, and all the nutrients were at the right levels. I use plenty of cured compost, so organic content of the soil shouldn't be a problem either. I also have the same problem with radishes and onions. They just don't make up the bulb portion.

Yours are very nice. Keep up the good work! I'll just keep watching mine for now. Hopefully, they'll grow the bulbs.