Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bitroot cultivation

Beetroot grows best in cool weather, but it can be planted throughout the year. The best time to plant is from early spring to early summer  and again late in summer and into autumn . These are the cool periods of the year. Beetroot does not grow well in summer when it is very hot, neither does it grow well in the middle of winter when it is very cold.

Popular varieties
bitroot crimson globe plant

- Crimson Globe
- Detroit Dark Red

Beetroot will grow on any soil type except acid soil. It grows well on brackish and on alkaline soils, but the soil must be well drained. This means that when plants are watered, the water must soon drain into the ground and not be left as long-standing puddles. If this happens, compost must be worked into the soil. This will also prevent the soil from forming a crust through which the young plants can emerge only with difficulty. However, compost must not be worked into the soil just before the beetroot is sown, otherwise the beetroot can become hairy and form thick lateral roots. Already work the compost into the soil a season before the beetroot is
detoit dark red bitroot

grown. First plant a vegetable like cabbage and then follow it up with beetroot in the next season. This is a

form of rotational cropping, which means that you do not plant beetroot on the same patch of ground year after year. It also prevents the accumulation of diseases and insects in the soil.

Fertiliser for bitroot

The most important plant nutrient required by beetroot is nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and boron (B). Beetroot requires a great deal of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but only a small quantity of boron. The soil does not always have enough of this for beetroot, and then the beetroot farmer must supplement it. It is important not to give too few or too many plant nutrients, therefore the soil must first be analysed so that the plants will not be burned, nor show poor growth.
bitroot seeds

If you do not have the soil analysed, the following quantities may be given:

At planting, 80g of 2:3:2 (22) with zinc (Zn) per square metre (m2).

This fertiliser is a mixture of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and it contains a little bit of zinc. This means that four kinds of plant nutrients are given to the plants simultaneously. They must be worked into the soil thoroughly before the beetroot is planted.

Three to four weeks after the beetroot has been planted, or when the plants have reached a height of 15cm, or a height equal to the length of one’s hand, the following can be applied:

25g of sulphate of ammonia per m2 or

20g of limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN) per m2.

(One square metre (m2) is equal to a square made by putting four shovels on the ground, their ends touching.)

If there is too little boron in the soil, the beetroot will have black blotches on both the inside and the outside. It will also display black cracks and holes. If this occurs, 1g of Solubor per m2 can be worked into the soil before beetroot is planted there again. This is less than a quarter teaspoonful of Solubor per m2 of ground. Take care not to apply any more than this, because too much is toxic to the plants.

Preparation of land


Before beetroot seed is sown, the ground must be levelled and lumps, stones and weeds must be removed. The seed is sown in slit trenches or small furrows having a depth of 2cm. When the plants emerge, some of them must be pulled out to leave the remainder enough growing space. The space between the plants must be about 7cm. The space between the rows must be about 20cm.

It is very important to keep the soil moist until the plants emerge. In the case of very hot weather, a layer of grass cuttings, straw or long leaves of grass can be placed on the beds to protect them from drying out. Such

a layer is called a mulch. When the plants begin to emerge, the mulch must be removed so that the plants will not be lanky. When the plants have fully emerged, the mulch can be replaced again between the plants, but the plant leaves must not be entirely covered. The mulch between the plants keeps the soil moist longer and also, to an extent, prevents the emergence of weeds.

Watering bitroot plants

Beetroot has shallow roots and it is important to water the plants regularly. If they experience long dry periods, the beetroot will become hairy and fibrous. During cool weather, the plants can be watered once a week. During very hot weather, less water can be given two to three times a week instead of a lot of water once a week.

Pest and diseases

This vegetable is usually remarkably free from pests and diseases but there are a few that you should be on the look out for.

Protect from birds at the seedling stage or they will have the young tender leaves for breakfast .

Mangold Leaf or Leaf Miner is a small white grub which burrows inside the leaves creating tunnels which turn into blisters. Most serious in young plants the leaves turn brown and growth is stunted - attack usually occurs from May onwards. Treat by removing affected leaves at first sign of attack and destroy them.

Bolting is were plants sometimes run to seed before roots have developed. There are a number of reasons why this may occur:

1. dry soil
2. lack of organic matter
3. sowing seed to early
4. waiting to long to thin seedlings out

There are resistant varieties you may want to try - Boltardy being the best known and can be planted as
early as weather permits, it also has excellent taste and storing qualities... right into the following spring.

Leaf Spot appears as brown spots on leaves after planting beet root. The paler central area of the spot can drop out. The effect on the crop yield is not serious even though the leaves look badly disfigured. Remove seriously diseased leaves and destroy.

Practising crop rotation will help prevent this disease, apply a balanced fertilizer a couple of weeks before sowing.

Aphids cause leaves to curl and the new shoots to become distorted possibly resulting in less root yield. Try containing aphid attacks by encouraging other insects such as hoverflies and ladybirds which feed on them.

Beetroot - Harvesting
bitroot seedlins

Expected germination time 10-14 days
Hasten germination by soaking seeds for several hours prior to sowing
Life expectancy of stored seed Three years
Approx. time between sowing and harvesting Globe varieties - 11 weeks
Long varieties - 16 weeks

Very straightforward. Just lift the plants as you require them - the globe varieties should be no bigger than a tennis ball... the smaller the more sweet and succulent they are.

If you have grown some roots for storage these should be lifted on a dry day at the end of September into October. Be extra careful at this stage to ensure successful storage - you`ve put in a lot of effort to get here.

Pull them by hand if possible, be very care full using a fork if you have grown the long varieties - place the fork into the soil away from the plant and loosen the soil without damaging the beet root.

Remove the foliage to about 50mm(2") above the crown of the beet root (beetroot) - twist the foliage off... do not cut with a knife as this will cause the stalks to bleed. Reject any damaged beet roots or any vegetables that have been attacked by pests. Damaged beet roots will rot in storage. Do not bruise by careless handling!

Store your beet roots in a stout box between layers of dry peat - don`t let any roots touch. Place the box in a dry, frost free place... they should keep until early spring.

Beetroot can be harvested when it attains a width of 7.5cm.

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