Historically speaking, beets seem to be a relatively new vegetable. With no firm records of their existence prior to the 1600s, what we call a "beet" today was known as a "Blood Turnip" up until the late 1880s.
Because the plants have a long taproot, beets like well worked, loam soil. However, if the soil is too rich, you may experience forked roots or plants that go to seed. Beets tend to toughen as they mature. Table varieties can be eaten raw, canned, pickled, baked or boiled. In locations where the ground does
not freeze, beets can be left to overwinter in place the garden. Mulching with straw can help prevent damage and protect the plants. Beets are a biennial so seed production occurs during their second summer. In
the spring, the roots will send up new leaf growth which makes a welcome
addition to the table in the form of fresh or cooked greens.
Click on a variety's picture for more information
Unless otherwise noted, each packet contains four grams.
Beets are often noted as being the most "earthy" flavored of the root vegetables. This is caused by a compound called geosmin and is the same one that gives the air that distinct aroma after the soil is freshly worked or after a rain falls onto dry earth.
Originally unsure whether the the geosmin in beets was caused by soil borne microorganisms or produced by the beets themselves, scientific study seems to now indicate the latter. Regardless, geosmin is a natural and important part of a beet variety's flavor signature. If it was missing, so to would be a large portion of their flavor.
• As the plants grow and the beet roots are developing, you can selectively, and sparingly, harvest leaves to be used as greens in salads. Do not take more than one-forth of the foliage from any one plant. • When beets are ready to harvest, their shoulders will be protruding from the ground so you can easily see what size they are. • Depending on your preference, you can pull them when they are small (about 1˝ inches in diameter) or larger (up to about three inches). • If left in the ground too long, especially through very hot weather, flavor and texture are affected.