Common name: Beetroot, table beet
Botanical name: Beta vulgaris
Family: Chenopodiaceae (spinach family)
Requires: Sun, well-drained soil free of lumps
Best climate: All
Propagation: Seed, seedling
Beautiful beets are ancient vegies dating back to the ancient Greeks, who commonly used them as religious offerings and the leaves as wound dressings. But it’s said to be the French who, in the 16th century, discovered the nutty, sweet flavour achieved by roasting dark, plump beetroot.
Although we adore them for their blood-red colour — and will happily put up with our hands and chopping boards looking like a crime scene after prepping them — beetroot can also be found in white, golden yellow and even candy cane hues.
But it’s the versatility of this veg that I love the most. Both leaves and roots are edible and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. I love growing my own so I can harvest a few leaves while the root keeps developing in the ground — just remember not to pick all the leaves at once from each plant or you’ll upset the development of the root below ground.
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Good Organic Gardening #11.3