Gardening News from Michael Kelly GIY Ireland
Regular readers of this column will know by now that I am a big fan of (and perhaps a little obsessed with) beetroot. I think if I had to pick a favourite veg to grow, beetroot would come out on top (with a little competition perhaps from squashes, leeks, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, ….oh sod it). Beetroot, why do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First of all it’s easy to grow - it is rarely troubled by pests or disease and grown in module trays for later transplanting, I find it almost 100% reliable. Let’s be honest there aren’t many veg you can say that about. Secondly it’s great value for space – because the beetroot are sown quite close together, you will get 40 beetroot from just a metre of veg bed (in 4 rows, with the beets 10cm apart in each row).
Thirdly, beetroot is incredibly good for you - 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. Finally, and perhaps most significantly beetroot stores really well, making it possible to become self-sufficient in this superfood all year round. I generally do three sowings of beetroot each year to maintain a consistent stash – an early crop sown in February for the polytunnel, a second crop sown around now for the summer months and then a final ‘storage’ crop sown in July for lifting in October. I store beetroot in a box of sand in the shed from which we can enjoy fresh beetroot from October until May. Eating three a week on average we chomp through about 100 beetroot in this time.
This week I sowed a tray of beetroot in the potting shed, though of course you can sow them direct in the soil if you wish (see Things to Do This Week below). I sowed a full 84-cell module tray with one seed per cell and a selection of varieties (Detroit Globe, Pablo F1, Bulls Blood, Chiogga Pink and Laura Anne). All of these varieties are available from the GIY webshop (http://www.giyireland.com/shop) bar Laura Anne which is available from Brown Envelope Seeds.