“You can eat its roots, or eat its shoots,
Vote for big, fat, purple beetroots!”
A wonderfully versatile rooting veggie, beetroot can be consumed for its leaves as well, and is an easy grower and pleasure to see in your urban farm!
SEASONS: Beetroot is a seasonal plant. It needs cool weather to develop sweetness and deeper color. For that reason it is best suited for Mumbai’s winters.
PROPAGATING: This plant is very easily propagated from seeds.
GERMINATING: Beetroot is best germinated in germination dishes/seeding baskets prepared with a mixture of compost and peat moss. Sow seeds in mid-October so they can grow into sturdy saplings and be planted out by early November, in time for Mumbai’s winter. Seeds can be shown in 1/2 inch deep holes. Place in semi-shade and spray water evenly. Spray your sown seeds daily until seedlings emerge in 5-7 days.You can also sow beetroot seeds directly in soil.
PLANTING OUT: Transplant to neutral to alkaline, well-drained, light soil in a sunny spot after 2 weeks, spacing out your seedlings at least 6 inches apart to allow easy access to resources for these heavy-feeding plants. While beetroot plants prefer light manure, they like richness in compost to feed their bulbous growth. Beetroot will grow well on open plots but containers are preferable (at least 12 inches deep) as they keep the soil moist and are convenient for harvesting.
NURTURING: Beetroot plants require regular, but not heavy watering as constant moist conditions will make its roots rot. It is a swiftly growing plant and will grow to harvesting stage in about 2 months. It remains relatively disease free but is sensitive to hot weather which will stunt its growth and lead to early bolting (flowering before proper root formation). Beetroot plants can develop fungal spots on its leaves which are best dealt with by pruning off affected leaves. Aphid infections sometimes cause leaf-curl, which is best addressed by finding and eliminating the offending aphids by targeted water+detergent sprays.
HARVESTING: Beetroot is harvested for its leaves and its roots. Harvest leaves at any stage of its growth. Roots can be harvested at maturity – at any time between 2-3 months of growth. If in open plot soil, use a broad shovel to dig out the entire plant. If in a container, pull out the entire plant gently from the soil. Chop off extraneous parts and wash roots well. Once you have harvested and composted the plant, replenish the soil and use that space for growing fruiting or leafing veggies.
A harvest-ready beetroot plant at 2 months
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