When I think of beetroot: homemade burgers, stained t-shirts and canned vege come immediately to mind. Back in February I put into the ground 15 or so cork beetroot seeds (I went for a mix of Cylindra and Super king this year). One of the easiest vege to grow in my opinion (I’ll go into how soon). If you have never seen the seeds of a beetroot (see photo) they have a corky-like outer and can contain between 2 to 4 of the ‘true’ seeds inside. The cork takes on moister once it comes in contact with the soil, triggering the germination process.
Out of the 15 corks I got about 30+ full-grown plants and were ready for harvesting after just over three months growing (I know the packet says sooner, but this wasn’t the case for me). Over the past few years I have tried both rasing the seeds in trays first and buying seedling punnets from the shop. So, this was the first time for direct sowing of the seeds and subsequently having the greatest success. So what did I do?
The gardening books I have read suggest soaking the corky seeds in warm water for a few hours before sowing. The concept made sense to me, so I did.
I put a few handfuls of my rich homemade compost and a sprinkling of NPK fertiliser graduals on the soil and raked it in gently.
Once soaked, I sowed the seeds roughly 20 cm apart and in a couple of rows. My intention was to plant another two rows in a few weeks time to keep a circulation of plants growing (never happened though).
Germination took about ten days and after a few weeks I thinned out the double up of plants and planted these in another two rows.
I did very little other than weeding and giving the plants a water of worm wee. And, last weekend I pulled up all of the brilliant red roots. Mmmmmm what now?
I saved a couple to roast up with potatoes that evening for dinner and the rest I decided to bottle.
As with everything in this blog being only my opinion (and those who agree), the simplest recipe for bottled beetroot can be found in Digby Law’s “Pickle & Chutney Cookbook” http://www.fishpond.co.nz/Books/Cooking,_Food_Drink/Canning_Preserving/9781869710552/
For less than the cost of one can of bought beetroot (and much MUCH tastier) I bottled three and a half large jars of simply the best t-shirt staining beetroot in town. And if you don’t believe me come round for a sample.
The best time of the year for growing beetroot is July – March in most areas (NZ) but really all year round (except if very wet during the sowing time) in warmer areas.
Extra for blooming geeks: The experts say that beetroot is packed with antioxidants and rummer has it, beetroot has an aphrodisiac quality.