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Beets

Beets


Beets are popular root vegetable that can be grown as a spring or fall crop in Kansas. Tops can be used as a cooked green, rich in vitamin A, and roots are a great source of vitamin C. Roots are typically canned or pickled, and are served diced, sliced, whole, and in strips. Swiss chard is a close relative of the beet and produces foliage rather than an enlarged root. Nutritional value is similar to that of beets.

Beet Varieties:
Red round varieties include Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Ruby Queen, Little Ball, Red Ace, Asgrow Wonder, and Warrior. Elongated varieties include Cylindra and Long Red Blood.

When to Plant:
Beets are fairly frost hardy and can be planted in early to mid-April in many areas of Kansas. Irrigate carefully to avoid soil crusting, which prevents good germination. Plant fall beets in early August.

Spacing:
The beet seed is actually a cluster of seeds in a dried fruit. Plant the seeds about an inch apart and about 1/2 inch deep. Hand thinning is usually necessary to provide a uniform stand of beets properly spaced 2-3 inches apart. Poorly thinned stands will have an abundance of tops with few or small roots.

Care:
Beets compete poorly with weeds, so frequent shallow cultivations are necessary. Beet plants require a fertile well-watered location. Hand thin the plants when they are 1-2 inches tall to avoid damage to surrounding plants.

Harvest:
Select beets of the diameter you prefer. Roots larger than 2-21/2inches in diameter are often tough and woody. Beets for baby beets or whole canning should be harvested smaller. Trim the tops of beets to 1/2-1 inch above the roots and store in plastic bags in a refrigerator before use. Mulch fall-planted beets to prolong the fresh harvest season, but use them before they freeze.