Variety Spotlight - Organic Beets
The beet is a vegetable that has in recent years been elevated to gourmet status. A status that is well deserved, we must admit. Not only do beets have a sweet, earthy flavor that pairs well with, say, goat cheese and arugula, they are also nutritious and colorful.
Beets are also seasonally very well-adapted. Though they grow best at temperatures between 60 – 65 F, we have found in our Trials & Showcase fields that we’re able to sow beets successionally throughout the growing season, from mid April when our beds can first be prepped to about a month or so before our first anticipated frost date.
Red Globe Beets
If you haven’t ever planted Boro F1 Beet, then you don’t yet know how good a beet can be. Year after year in our trials, Boro F1 is a consistently one of the sweetest, most uniform, and highest rated varieties. In our 2011 hybrid beet trials, we found Boro F1 to be more uniform than Merlin F1 and better to size up in the fall.
Boro F1 sizes up early for uniform, round baby beets with excellent flavor and texture. And Boro F1 maintains its sweetness and smooth texture at larger sizes as well. In fact, in the fall we overlooked a small stand of Boro F1 and the beets grew quite large – 5 or 6” in diameter. When we sliced them open, they oozed red and the texture was still juicy and not at all fibrous. Boro F1 roots have a bright scarlet color with no zoning and the tops are vigorous and remain healthy well into the season.
Red Ace F1 Beet is an excellent market standard. This tried and true variety is widely grown and is another top performer in our trials. It is said to be the #1 beet in North America. Tops are somewhat smaller than Boro F1 in trials, but also show great regrowth and tolerance to disease. Sweet, smooth textured roots resist zoning, even in warmer climates.
Extend your beet horizons by growing Cylindra Beet, a dark red beet with an elongated root shape. Cylindra is a great novelty beet with the very practical advantage of easier peeling and slicing. Chefs love this variety because it is easier to prep, and picklers love it for uniform beet slices. As Cylindra grows, the roots tend to push up above the soil line and will harden somewhat from exposure to sunlight. Slight, gentle hilling is recommended to help root tops stay smooth.
Colored beets are wonderfully eye-catching and golden and candy-striped varieties are a great way to make beets more exciting.
Touchstone Gold’s vibrant golden flesh retains its color when cooked and is gorgeous alone or combined with red beets. Lighter colored beets tend to have more problems with germination, but Touchstone Gold is the best germinating golden beet available.
Chioggia Guardsmark Beet is an improved version of the Italian pink-and-white candy-striped heirloom with more defined rings and increased uniformity and bolt tolerance.
Baby beet greens make a great addition to salad and stir-fry mixes, adding diversity to in their color and texture. Beet greens grow well under both warm and cold temperatures, so they can round out a summer mix when heat-sensitive crops are bolting. We recommend Early Wonder Tall Top Beet for quick and early green leaves with a brightly contrasting red rib or Bull’s Blood Beet for striking dark red-purple leaves.