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This versatile annual is often ignored and underappreciated, but it makes the short list because it has so much to offer.

Beets are a first-class source of energy-enriching nutrients, including iron, vitamins, and fiber, plus all parts of the plant are edible.

Because beets are frost-tolerant, seeds may be sown in early April (a month prior to the frost-free date). Soaking the seeds in water overnight before planting will increase germination.

Continue to make successive plantings every 20 days until midsummer for a nonstop supply of beets. Add another sowing or two in late August for fall harvests.

Beet leaves can be picked when they reach 3 inches and either cooked similarly to chard and spinach or mixed fresh into a green salad.

Harvesting beet roots is a matter of preference — when they are between 1 and 3 inches or when part of the globe begins to show through the soil. Beets can be pickled or cooked and served hot or chilled.

Compatible plants for beets are onions, kohlrabi, and herbs. Do not plant beets with pole beans and mustards because they will stunt each other’s growth.

Grow yellow and white varieties if you don’t want red ones to bleed all over kitchen counters and your hands.

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