Friday 13 May 2011

Beetroot and Chard

Beetroot ("Beets" to you folks in the USA) is one of my favourite vegetables, and it features frequently in our diet both as a cold salad ingredient and also as a hot vegetable to go with Winter meals.

This year I am growing two types of red beetroot - "Red Ace" and the old favourite "Boltardy" - and (for the first time) a golden variety "Burpee's Golden". In order to prolong my harvesting season I sowed the red beetroots a couple of weeks before the golden one, and the red ones also had the benefit of cloches, which the golden one didn't. This is what they look like now:

"Red Ace"

"Burpee's Golden"
Over the weekend I thinned out the red beetroot again. Most of you will know by now that my style is to thin crops successively rather than just once. The smallest leaves from the beetroot thinnings make an interesting salad ingredient, and the bigger leaves can be cooked and served as a hot vegetable.

As well as the beetroot I am also growing a small quantity of the closely-related Swiss Chard and Perpetual Spinach. Jane doesn't like either of these, so I don't grow much, but I love Chard. It is effectively two vegetables in one - the green parts of the leaves can be used like spinach, and the fleshy stems can be cooked as you might cook Asparagus. In this picture of young Chard you can see the pinkish-white stems already beginning to thicken:

Swiss Chard

I grow Perpetual Spinach mainly because it bolts less readily than the "normal" spinach. Its name is a bit misleading actually - it is a Biennial, in other words a plant whose life spans two years: you sow it at the start of one year, and it runs to seed at the end of the next. The plants produce leaves much like any other spinach, though perhaps a bit more robust. The stems never thicken like Chard though.

Perpetual Spinach
My favourite way to eat Perpetual Spinach is the "Florentine" way, wilted very gently in just a tiny amount of water, squeezed out and served with a poached egg on top, and some toast.


  1. We've grown a white beetroot too - really must find more ways of using beetroot as a vegetable.

  2. I love beets! I am growing them too and spinach, although is a Tyee, I do not know how long it will grow, here in California, summers are soo hot, lettuce and other greens bolt during summer, my arugula already bolted. I am cutting my spinach and freezing it, to enjoy during the hot summer :) great photos!

  3. Your beets look yummy! Last year my early crop looked good. Later I had to battle with leaf miners for the greens.

  4. Don't cloches and a couple of weeks make a difference to plants. They all look healthy and strong.

  5. The pictures are beautiful! Is the "red ace" as delicious as it looks?

  6. Everything is romping away with you! I am VERY behind - but having said that I don't see any plots with us that have young growth this far on.

  7. I've got to get some cloches...your vegies look so wonderful! And is that a worm I spy on your chard...? I love my rainbow chard. So yum. I've only just planted perpetual spinach, I've never grown or eaten it before and they are only just sprouting now. Glad you like it gives me hope that I will too!

  8. I never heard of perpetual spinach, interesting. I like the bright colours of beetroot leaves. I am growing it for the first time. But I am kind of confius how to thin them as one seeds sprouted several leaves.

  9. I'm attempting to convert myself to beetroot by growing Boltardy and Burpees Golden. MIL loves it, and people keep telling me that I will love it when picked small and eaten raw with salad. We'll see!

  10. Hi Mark, I didn't realize that chard stems could be cooked like asparagus, great tip..might need to throw some in my garden because nothing that needs warmth will grow right now!

  11. Hi Mark, I'd love to use a photo of your Red Ace beetroot growing for a charity garden I'm helping out with at the BBC Gardeners World Live 2016 at the NEC. Please let me know if that's OK? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Rob; Sure! No problem, you're welcome to use the photo. An "attribution statement" would be welcome though.


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