Beetroot – Albina Ice
Beetroot – Albina Ice is a truly white beetroot which does not bleed when cut. Excellent flavour and texture. It is an old Dutch variety that has ivory white tender flesh and a particularly sweet and delicate flavour. Much sweeter and less earthy than red beetroot with a firmer texture, it is particularly good variety for children.
Use in salads, for roasting and for pickling, they are also good for freezing. The roots lack the red pigment normally associated with beetroots and so does not stain like red beetroot. Its nutrient-rich leaves are curled and wavy and can be used like spinach.
Approx. seed count: 150
It is very important to remember that most beetroot seeds are clusters of more than one seed. This means if you sow one seed, you will have three to five seedlings germinating. These have to be thinned to one seedling soon after germination otherwise the beetroot will remain very small.
Many modern varieties have single seeds. If you want to buy these you have to look out for ‘monogerm’ varieties in seed catalogues.
Early varieties for summer use can be sown directly outside in a well prepared seed bed in shallow drills (1.5cm). I never had much success with the early sowings in March. The earliest I would start is in late April, but you get a much better crop in May. For the early sowing in April make sure you use a bolt resistant variety such as ‘Boltardy’.
Some gardeners prefer to raise the seedlings in large modular trays. If you try this method make sure that you plant the seedlings out when they are still quite small. I always found beetroot very easy to sow directly outside as the seeds are large enough and easy to handle and I do not want to clutter up valuable propagation space.
Maincrop varieties are best sown directly outside like the early crop in the last two weeks in May or even into June if you missed these times. During that time they germinate very quickly (7-10 days) and grow very fast. The reason for getting woody, tough beetroot is often slow growth.
Final spacing: 20cm between the rows and 10cm between rows.
Final spacing: 25cm between the rows and 10cm between rows.
I initially sow the seeds about 2.5cm apart and then thin them in two stages. The first thinning is done a couple of weeks after germination. I remove all unwanted seedlings from the clusters (not for monogerm varieties) and leave one seedling every 5cm.
The thinnings rarely do well when transplanted. If you have gaps in the rows you are better off sowing a few new seeds.
When they reach the baby beetroot stage you can harvest every second plant. These are delicious and you can also cook the leaves like spinach.
This allows the remaining plants to fully develop.
Beetroot and other members of the goosefoot family are not prone to any specific pests and diseases so you do not have to be too fussy about rotation. You could use them as ‘flexi-crops’ or gap fillers.
Apart from keeping the crop weed free and properly thinned to the required spacing, there is no other maintenance required.
Early beetroot can be harvested throughout the summer at whatever size you prefer them or whenever you want some beetroot. It is best to twist off the leaves to avoid damage and bleeding of the roots.
Maincrop beetroot for storage should be left until October. Of course, if you want to eat some before then there is no problem, but if you grow some for storing you should let them mature until October.
Beetroot is an excellent winter vegetable and stores extremely well in boxes of damp sand (see page ). One year I had beetroot until May of the following year and they were still as good as freshly harvested roots.
How much to grow?
You may eat 3 reasonable sized beetroot per week. Beetroot will store safely in boxes of sand in a shed from October until the end of April which is 28 weeks. 28 weeks multiplied by 3 beetroot per week makes a total of 84 beetroot.
If your spacing is 10cm in the row you get 4 rows in a bed (bed width: 1.2m) you will get 40 beetroot per meter of your bed.
In only 2 meters of your bed you can grow enough beetroot to give you a few roots for 28 weeks!
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