When you think of vegetables, you might recall bad memories of a childhood spitting out onions or garlic pieces when you accidentally ate them. The human mind has been trained to think of vegetables as necessary to health, but not really that appetizing.
But are all vegetables really so undesirable?
When you take the time to really explore the taste of a vegetable, you will be surprised at how your perception of it can change. This is especially true of beets. Beets are delicious, with their own sweet, earthy, tangy flavor. When you learn how to cook them in unique and interesting ways, they far surpass TV dinners and even your favorite box of pizza!
What is even more exciting is that you can actually start your very own beet garden at home. Beets are known to be very easy to grow. If you are a beginner, you can choose them to be the first on your list of garden plants. If you have already planted a variety of vegetables before, try beets for something new, interesting, and certainly delicious.
But before we get into a comprehensive guide on how to grow beets, let’s take time to learn more about these sumptuous root crops.
The Benefits of Beets
So why should you choose to grow beets over other vegetables? Beets are easy to grow, but if you are a more experienced gardener, you don’t really need easy.
The best reason to grow beets is because of the benefits they provide to the human body. Here are just three to start you off.
Beets are Packed with Vitamins and Nutrients
This is pretty obvious, considering beets are vegetables. All vegetables have their own store of vitamins and nutrients to give you. Greens are high in calcium and orange vegetables in vitamin C.
But did you know that beets give you almost all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs? Whether you enjoy beets raw, boiled, or baked, you get an impressive serving of Vitamins A, B, B6, B12, C, D, and K. Beets also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. This itself is incentive enough to get started on that beet garden!
Beets Prevent Dangerous Health Conditions
Heart disease is one of the largest causes of death in the world. And the leading cause of heart disease is high blood pressure.
If you can’t eat beets for pleasure, eat them for your heart. Beets are full of dietary nitrates, which work well in causing your blood pressure to drop. The healthier your blood pressure, the lower your chances of heart disease and heart attack.
Because beets lower the inflammation levels in your body, eating them may also lower your risk of cancer.
Taking care of your health, then, can be as simple as enjoying a few dishes of delicious homegrown beets.
Beets Help You Lose Weight
Not all fruits and vegetables help you shed off extra pounds. For example, eating bananas and potatoes can actually make you gain weight! If you are looking for a filling and delectable vegetable that keeps weight off you, you should go for beets.
Beets have a high water and low calorie count. Even if you reach for more than one serving of beet salad or roasted beets, you are not doing much to add flab and fat to your body.
As can be seen, beets are truly impressive. You might already been envisioning your own stock of freshly harvested beets. And the great news is you can start your own beet garden right away!
A Comprehensive Guide on How to Grow Beets
Luckily for you, the road to better health through beets is very easy. Here is your complete guide on how to grow beets.
How to Plant Beets
To get started with beets, you need an open plot of soil and beet seed capsules. You can get these capsules from beet plants you buy or at a local greenhouse.
Remember, each beet seed capsule holds 2 to 4 beet seeds. It is not necessary to remove the seeds from the capsules, which can be difficult and take a lot of time. The easiest way to plant beet seeds is to put the capsules directly into the ground.
Before putting the capsules into the ground, soak them overnight in some water. This will make the coatings softer, aiding the plants as they sprout.
Press the beet capsules into the soft soil about half an inch deep. Tap the soil lightly and then water it. It is best to plant your capsules in 12-inch rows with 2 or 3 inch spacing between each capsule.
You will most likely see the new green sprouts breaking the surface of the soil in 5 to 10 days.
How to Choose Soil for Beets
Like all other plants, beets require a specific kind of soil for optimum growth. For beets, go for soil with a PH level of 6 or 7. To prepare the soil for planting, till it and mix in a little aging manure. This will give your beet plants the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy.
How to Water Beets
Beets are generally thought of as a thirsty crop. They require more water than other plants do. However, it is important not to over-water them, as this can lead to problems like disease and even crop failure.
So how often should you water your beets?
There is no precise rule for how many times a week you should water your beets. What you need to do is to pay attention to the stage your beet plants are in and the weather conditions in your area.
For example, younger beet plants require less water than more mature ones. The climate of your area and how much rainfall you get also help you determine how often you should water your plants.
Typically, your beet plants need around 1″ of water in the soil. So if your area recently got 1/2 inch of rainwater, you can add the remaining 1/2 inch with your watering can. It is a good idea to use a rain gauge to more adequately measure rainfall. If you don’t have one, putting your finger around an inch deep into the soil can help you determine if it is nice and moist but not too swampy.
Consistently keeping watch of moisture levels in your beet plants’ soil will ensure a bountiful and healthy crop.
When to Plant Beets
The best time to plant beets is during the cool seasons of the year. Beets grow better in chilly temperature, and don’t take well to heat.
The perfect time to grow beets is during the spring or fall. This is great news for you, especially if you already have crops like lettuce or peas in your vegetable garden. Once summer has passed and you have harvested these other vegetables, you can start planting your beets for another good crop to look forward to before the first frost arrives!
When to Harvest Beets
Harvesting beets is something that is done gradually. This is great news, as you can expect to enjoy many delightful dishes from your beets over a long period of time!
You can start enjoying your beets about a week after they germinate. After the sprouts come out, you will need to trim them. This is because there is always more than one seed per capsule, and the shoots will grow together and compete with each other for nutrients in the soil.
Carefully trim your beet plants to get rid of the extra shoots. These shoots can be thrown into a green salad or eaten with your favorite dip. Because they are micro greens, they are healthy and delicious at the same time.
As time goes on, you can harvest beet shoots whenever you need them. The younger the shoots are, the more tender and enjoyable to eat they will be.
After 50 to 70 days, your beet roots will be ready to harvest. But the actual date of harvest really depends on you. If you want smaller and more tender beets, you can harvest them when they reach 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size. If you want them bigger, you can wait a little longer before digging them out of the soil. However, don’t leave them too long because older beets are tough and woody, making them unpleasant to chew.
How to Harvest Beets
Harvesting beets is simple, but it is important to avoid mistakes that could ruin your plants for good.
For example, don’t pull the seedlings out when harvesting beet leaves. This will disturb the roots and other plants around them. Instead, take some scissors and cut the stems from ground level.
If you are harvesting the beets themselves, gently dig them out of the soil with a shovel.
How to Store Beets
If you have harvested a sizable crop of beets, you will want to store them so you can enjoy them slowly over time. Here are some things to remember when storing beets.
Never store beet leaves connected to their roots. This is because storing them together will cause them to rot faster.
Before storing your beets, carefully separate the roots from the stems and leaves. You can wrap your beet leaves in plastic and put them in the refrigerator. For the roots, make sure to leave an inch of stem on them. Surprisingly, this will make them stay fresh longer! Beets stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
If you want your beets to last longer, you can put them in an unheated root cellar. If this is your choice procedure, make sure not to wash off all the soil from the beets. Only wash the soil off when you are ready to use them. This trick will keep your beets fresher and moister, making them tender and delicious when the time comes to eat them.
How to Enjoy Beets
Until now, you might have thought of all vegetables as annoying but necessary parts of your diet. But with beets, you can really start looking forward to healthy dishes.
Of course, you can boil or roast beets in the traditional way. Or you can shred them and add them to a fresh salad. But did you know that there are unique and exciting ways to prepare beets that make them crave-worthy dishes? Here are some of them.
Crispy Beet Chips
Are you looking for an alternative to the bags of potato chips you eat for snacks? Commercial potato chips are packed with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients that lead to weight gain and other problems. So if you want to pop something fun and crunchy into your mouth for afternoon snacks, why not make your own beet chips?
Making beet chips is easy. Simply peel the beets and cut them as thinly as you can. Then, deep-fry them in canola oil. You can sprinkle them with a little sea salt for extra flavor.
Beet Salad with Yogurt
This recipe is unbelievably creamy, sweet, and garlicky. You can use it as a dip for chips, crackers, or raw vegetables. Also, the pink or yellow color of the beets mixed with yogurt make the dip extremely pretty!
To make, seal sliced beats and olive oil in a foil packet. Bake them for 30 minutes in your oven. When they are done, mix them with minced garlic, black pepper, yogurt, and lemon juice. The resulting flavor will be out of this world!
Want to impress your dinner guests with a healthy and delicious dessert? If so, prepare sugar-glazed beets and serve them on a pretty platter once the dishes have been removed.
Sugar-glazed beets are easy to make. First, boil your beets until they are soft. In a separate pan, simmer brown sugar, butter, and apple juice. Mix the sauce and the beets together for a concoction that is delightfully creamy and will satisfy even the most hardcore sweet tooth!
Beets are healthy and delightfully delicious when cooked right. Now that you know all about them, it is time to start preparing for your very own beet garden at home.