July IV: the beetroot season so far….

2017 will be by far my best season of growing beetroot.

I have sown three crops:

1): an early crop of Boltardy, sown in early February and fully harvested by June 30th;

2): a main crop of Pablo, which I also use for exhibiting, sown 2 days before the April full moon and going to yield 45 beautiful roots from now to the end of September;

3): an experimental crop of 30 Mulatkas from Kazakhstan, via Real Seeds, transplanted on the morning sun side of pole beans in late May after sowing two days before the May full moon. These will be left in the ground until it is time to compost the ground.

The lessons I have learned are these:

1): Beetroot crops can be good even without good compost, provided the plants establish satisfactorily. My Boltardy crop was transplanted in early March, three of ten clumps were replaced due to slug damage and giving a good feed of seaweed was of great benefit in establishing the young plants in less than perfect soil. From mid April on, the plants grew away well and the first harvest was taken in early June.

2): In good compost, 100% establishment of young plants is achievable from early May onwards. Both Pablos and Mulatkas established perfectly.

3): Reasonable roots will develop after 12 weeks even in partly shaded ground with good compost. Enormous roots develop within 16 weeks in good compost in a sunny aspect.

4): unlike other crops which show edge effects of less productivity near bed borders, my best beetroots this year are at the end of rows.

5): In good compost, an area of 2.5 square metres will provide more than enough beetroot for three adults through the year. Obviously, the more inventive you get in preparing beetroot to eat, the greater area you may choose to grow.

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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