Single Packet of 2,000 Seeds
Grow a garden filled with Chioggia Beets, from freshly harvested Beta vulgaris seeds. Chioggia is an heirloom variety that has been in circulation since the early 1800's. It's outer skin is a bright red, while it's inner flesh is candy-striped in appearance. Cut in half, the innards look just like a bull's-eye, with alternating red-white rings. The roots grow to a good 2 to 3 inches in diameter, sitting beneath 12 inch, leafy greens on the surface. Both the roots and the actual greens can be eaten. The tops, as well as the bottoms are used in salads. The leafy greens of Chioggia Beets make a delicious and nutritious alternative to spinach, while it's roots are mild and sweet flavored.
Beets, or "Beetroots" are an easy variety of vegetable to grow in your home garden. They date back to as early as 2,000 B.C., spreading from Babylonia to China, around 850 A.D. Forming round, globe shaped roots, Chioggia Beets grow much like carrots, turnips and radishes. Categorized as an annual, they grow quickly in the cooler temperatures of early Spring and late Fall. Once they are fully grown, they can be harvested, thus ending their lifecycle. If temperatures become too hot, your beets will begin to bolt. This simply means that your Beetroot plants will no longer send it's energy to produce it's roots, instead it will produce seeds.This can be beneficial if you are looking to collect seeds to regrow the following season.
Sowing The Seed
Beets are best established directly outdoors in cooler temperatures. Having said this, you should consider sowing your beets directly in the garden, in the early weeks of Spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Clear the sowing area of all unwanted plant life, by tilling the soil. Create rows, sowing each seed at a depth of 1/2" under the topsoil. You can also follow these same steps for sowing in early Autumn when the temperature begins to drop.
Beetroots will require an area of full sunlight for the majority of the day. Again, they thrive best in cooler temperatures of around 55F to 75F. The soil should be fertile and rich in organic matter, with a pH level at around 6.2 to 7.0. You will also want to make sure that the sowing medium is loose and free of rocks, pebbles and other debris. If your sowing area consists of hard, compact soil, you might consider adding a light compost to increase drainage. Water the soil daily to provide ample moisture, however be careful not to overwater as this can cause crop failures.
Germination & Growth
Beetroot seeds typically take anywhere between 5 and 10 days to germinate successfully. The plants will form roots, much like that of a carrot or radish. The tops will grow to a mature height of about 1 foot tall. Each Beetroot plant can be spaced about 3 inches apart from one another, in rows spaced about 4 to 6 inches apart. Both the roots and the leafy greens are edible for this variety.
Harvesting Chioggia Beets
The first step to harvesting your Chioggia Beets is to make sure that they are ready. Check the base of your plant to see if the top of it's root is visible. If it is round and smooth, they can be plucked. Loosen the soil and place your hand at the base of the plant, where the stem meets the root. Give it a firm tug, removing it from the earth. Separate the roots and tops, rinsing both parts prior to consuming. Check below to learn about storage.
To store, set your roots in a shady and dry place to allow the dirt to dry. Dust off any dirt later on, storing your beets in a cool and dry location. Beetroots typically have a shelf life of a few weeks, while it's tops only last a few days. You can prolong this period of storage by placing them in sawdust or sand within a cool cellar.