Beets are a high yielding high in nutrition versatile addition to any vegetable garden. They thrive in most any climate in all but the heaviest soils.
Beet-greens contain vitamins A and C, and more minerals and iron than spinach. The roots are rich in nutrients like potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamins A and C, and contain fiber and protein.
You can use them in salads, soups, and side dishes like Harvard-beets they can be steamed, boiled, baked, or pickled especially with eggs.
My favorite recipe for the greens is greens and beans, the greens cooked with great northern beans and a little butter sea salt and pepper.
Good garden companions are bush beans, cabbage, onion, and sage.
Beets can grow in semi-shade but prefer full sun. Grow your roots in hilled up rows or beds in loose rock free well-drained soil. Use plenty of compost to lighten heavy soils and avoid freshly manured soils to prevent forked roots.
Production is best at temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F. If you have hot summers use them as early spring, fall, or late winter crops.
Plant seeds ½" deep about 2" apart with rows about 1' apart. Each seedpod will produce about six to eight seedlings. Thin and transplant or use the seedlings in soups or salads.
To have success with any root crop early weeding is critical. Hand weeding carefully is the best way to avoid bruising the young roots.
When the roots are 1" in diameter pull every other one and mulch to preserve moisture. Make sure to keep the moisture steady about 1" a week prevents the plants from going to seed or getting woody.
Lutz beets are my favorite because they produce an abundance of greens and large sometimes three or four pound roots that are really great baked, even the large Lutz root don't get woody. A old German friend told me about Lutz thirty-five years ago he baked the roots and made a really great wine from them.
You can harvest one third of the greens without harm to the root.
When you harvest the roots hand pull to avoid damage. Shake off the loose soil then twist off the tops leaving about an inch to prevent bleeding.
You can store the roots up to six months by layering undamaged roots between sand, peat, or sawdust in boxes and stored in a cool place.
Can or freeze the beets or greens.
Plant successive crops every two weeks until it gets hot and then a month or so before the first frost.