The red beetroot is descended from the wild beetroot. Cultivated beetroot originated in Asia around 3000 years ago. Originally the leaves and petioles were used for food, the roots were small, tough and inedible. Beetroots with large edible roots appeared around 1000 years ago. It became widespread and reached Lithuania in the Middle Ages. The oldest varieties of beetroot have the strongest flavor and aroma and accumulate a lot of sugar.
Beetroot is a root vegetable. The young leaves are eaten in the summer, followed by the roots later. They are boiled, fried, stewed, preserved and juiced.
Beetroot contains 14-18 % dry matter, 7-12 % sugars, protein, amino acids, organic acids, pigments, vitamins C, B, B, B, B., PP (B.), beta-carotene. Vitamin C is more abundant in the leaves. The mineral content is higher than in other vegetables. The organic substances betanin and betaine help in the absorption of proteins and improve metabolism and liver function. Beetroot active substances activate the production of red blood cells. The cellulose and organic acids neutralize and remove toxic substances, improve the secretion of gastric juices, cleanse the intestines and treat constipation. Beetroot contains substances that increase blood clotting.
Beetroot varieties are divided into very early (65-75 days), early (75-85 days), medium early (85-110 days) and medium late (over 110 days). It is advisable to grow 2 varieties: an early variety for consumption with the leaves, and another for autumn harvesting for storage over the winter.
In a sunny position, with as much light as possible.
Soil and substrates
Beetroot prefers light to moderate, friable soils with a non-sodden loam with a pH of 7-8. Acidic soils are less suitable for growth and are more susceptible to disease. The most suitable rootstocks are cabbage, cucumbers, peas, beans, lettuce, onions, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, celery. Not suitable for spinach, beetroot, carrots. Grow in the same place after 3-4 years.
Beetroot likes fertilized soil. Suitable fertilizers include decayed compost, decayed manure (fresh manure is not suitable). Fly ash can be used to prevent the soil from becoming too acidic. Boron is essential for beetroot.
Sowing and planting
Beetroot is sown at the end of April for early harvesting and from mid-May to early June for overwintering. Before sowing, compost (3-4 kg/m^) should be added to the soil. The seeds are placed at a depth of 2-3 cm in heavier, moist soils and 3-4 cm in lighter soils. It is recommended to soak the seeds for 1-2 days (faster germination) and sow them in watered soil. Sow at 10 cm intervals in the row, leaving about 40 cm between rows. Germination is best when the soil is warm to 11 °C. Seeds take about 15 days to germinate. Seedlings are thinned when they have 2 leaves. Thinning is carried out with a spacing of about 8 cm between the plants (before flooding). The uprooted seedlings are planted in empty spaces. Seedlings tolerate short-term frosts down to -4 °C. The seedlings are scarred by frost. 1-1,5 g of seeds per m2 are required.
Young plants need moisture. Watering is given, and the soil surface is loosened when a crust forms. Weeds are weeded and can be left in the internodes (seedless grasses). Mulch is spread thickly to cover the part of the roots that protrude above the ground. If slugs are present, the plant residues can be used as a cover for them.
Pests and diseases
Beetroot is affected by leafhoppers, beet nematodes, bean aphids, leaf miner and slugs.
Beetroot is weeded before frost in autumn. Beetroots that are medium-sized, not overgrown, are better in winter and are also the tastiest. The leaves are cut off when the beetroot is uprooted and the roots, which are intact and mechanically undamaged, are stored in damp sand in the cellar. They keep best at a temperature of 3-4 °C and relative humidity of around 95 %. The room must be ventilated.