MasterChef: Contestant makes beetroot dish with chocolate
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Beetroot is an extremely nutritious and versatile vegetable. The plant bears delicious round red roots which can be boiled, roasted, pickled and even grated into salads. The colourful young leaves can also be eaten. There are several varieties of beetroot in a range of colours including yellow, orange, pink and deep purple. But how do you sow beetroot?
How to sow beetroot
The best time to begin sowing beetroot in the UK is the fourth week in April – although the earliest you can start is March.
To effectively sow and grow your beetroot seeds, you should avoid sowing a large number of seeds at the same time,
Instead, try to sow a small number every two weeks.
Beetroot seeds can be sown at any time up to mid-July and if you begin in April, you should have plenty of time to sow plenty of beetroot in that time.
To sow your beetroot, begin making a 0.75-inch deep trench with the corner of a rake and place two seeds at every four inches.
Cover these seeds and then water the seeds well.
When the seedlings reach around 0.75 inches high, remove the weakest seedling of each pair to leave one beetroot seedling at every four inches.
If you want a large supply of beetroot, you should try to sow seeds every month, keeping the rows at least eight inches apart.
For those with smaller gardens, you can also grow beetroot in plant pots.
To grow beetroot in pots, use containers which are around eight inches deep and in diameter.
Fill your pot with multi-purpose compost and leave the compost just shy of the top.
Tap the pot gently to settle and firm it up with your fingertips, leaving a 1.5-inch gap between the surface of the compost and the top of the pot.
Sow your seeds thinly across the surface and cover with 0.75 inches of compost.
Water your beetroot seeds and thin out seedlings when they reach 0.75 inches tall, leaving five-inch gaps between them.
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To care for beetroot, you should make sure to water the plants regularly.
Watering regularly will reduce the likelihood of the roots becoming woody or splitting.
You should also take care to hoe around the plants to keep your row of beetroot plants free from weeds.
But make sure to take care not to damage the swelling beetroot roots.
How to harvest beetroot
Different beetroot varieties should be picked at different times.
However, generally, beetroot is ready to be harvested once its roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball, which is usually 90 days after sowing.
To harvest beetroot, you should gently hold the tops and lift while levering under the root with a hand fork.
The next step you should do when harvesting beetroot is to remove the tops and twisting them off with your hands to prevent the plants from bleeding their juice.
Do not throw away the tops as they are extremely tasty and can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
You can only store undamaged beetroot roots.
To store your beetroot effectively, place them in a box filled with a peat alternative and place them in a cool shed.
With this technique, your beetroot should last right through to March.
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