Gardening

How to plant beets

Beta vulgaris

Oil beet is a plant grown for the consumption of its primary root and its leaves, which are very nutritious. Most cultivars have red or purplish red roots, but there are also yellow, orange and white cultivars. Bethanine is also extracted from the reddish cultivars, used as a red food coloring (it is the E-162 color found in some industrialized foods, such as some tomato sauces and ice cream).

The beet oil, originated from the wild species known as sea beet or beet, which as the name indicates, is found in coastal regions of Europe, North Africa, South Asia and in the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores . Other plants grown with the same wild ancestor are sugar beet, fodder beet and chard.

Sugar beet is grown for the extraction of sucrose (common sugar) or for the production of alcohol. Its primary root, which stores the sugar produced in the leaves, is generally larger and longer than the root of the sugar beet, and can be white or yellowish.

Sugar beet is grown mainly to provide food for livestock, but it can also be consumed by humans, especially if harvested at a young age. They are generally larger plants than oil cultivars and their roots can also be white, yellow, orange or red.

Beets are biennial plants, normally blooming in the second year, although they do not bloom unless there is a period of low temperatures in winter and a summer with long days.

Climate

It grows best in mild weather (temperature between 10 ° C and 24 ° C). There are cultivars that grow well at higher temperatures, but many cultivars, especially sugar beet and fodder cultivars, do not grow well in warmer climates. On the other hand, well-developed plants can withstand low temperatures and frost.

Brightness

The beet needs good light, with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily.

Ground

Beets need well-drained, deep, light soil, free of stones and other debris, fertile, rich in organic matter and with a pH between 6 and 7.5. In particular, the soil must be rich in boron for plants to grow better, so it must be added, if necessary, using boron-containing fertilizers or adding borax to the soil.

Irrigation

Irrigate as often as necessary so that the soil is always moist, but not soaked.

Planting

What are planted are the fruit glomeruli, each containing some seeds, so it is necessary to remove excess plants when the seedlings are 5 to 10 cm high. Sow at a depth of approximately 1 cm in the soil, preferably directly at the final location of the garden, as beet seedlings can easily be damaged. Even so, it is possible to sow seeds and other containers. The transplant of the seedlings to the garden must then be carried out when they reach approximately 5 cm in height, and the transplant must be done with care so as not to damage the roots of the seedlings. Seed germination usually takes one to three weeks, depending on environmental conditions.

The recommended spacing for oil beet cultivars can be 30 cm between the planting lines and 5 to 10 cm between the plants. For sugar cultivars, the spacing can be 30 to 60 cm between rows and 15 to 30 cm between plants. For fodder beet, the spacing can vary between 40 and 100 cm between rows and 15 to 60 cm between plants, depending on the size of the cultivar.

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that are competing for resources and nutrients.

Do not let the roots be exposed, as they can harden. Cover exposed roots with soil or straw.

Harvest

Harvesting of oil beets starts 60 to 90 days after sowing. Harvesting should not be too late, as the roots can become fibrous.

The sugar beet harvest takes place 4 to 6 months after planting.

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