Sunday, February 6, 2011
From the garden - BEETS!
Well, I've had my first, teensy-tiny harvest from the new garden. Okay, I'm not counting the fact that I've already cut and used some of the leaf lettuce. But I'm really excited about my first batch of beets!
Maybe you can tell what a true novice I am, by how pleased I've gotten over such a little bit of produce.
Since this is my experimental garden, I'll tell you what I've learned.
I planted the beets on December 5th, using the directions for spacing in the book Square Foot Gardening. I planted two squares of beets, each 1' X 1', with 16 beets in each square. I wondered about having them so close together, as I'm used to seeing beets in Honduras which are about 4" in diameter, and clearly planting so many in such a small space was going to produce smaller beets. The author of the book suggests that intentionally harvesting smaller produce results in tastier and more tender veggies. I decided to go with these directions for this first batch, and make adjustments, as needed, on the next batch.
The book recommends harvesting the beets 8 weeks after planting, when they are about the size of ping-pong balls. Today is 9 weeks from planting. My beets along the edges of the squares were larger than ping-pong balls, but the interior plants have much smaller beets. As you can see in the photo, I only pulled the larger beets, and there were only 5 of those. I'm leaving the others to continue growing. That's not a problem, except that I'll need to plant more beets at one time, if I'm going to have enough full grown beets, all at the same time, for a family meal.
We had extremely little rain during the time these beets were growing. I was watering regularly, but I could tell that the plants perked up after a rain, and they looked happier on overcast days than on sunny days. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to continue to grow beets through the rainy season, but that will be an experiment for later in the year.
The temperatures this year have been warmer than the same time last year, and it has been much sunnier this year. Since I've only lived here on the property one year, I don't know if last year or this year was more typical. So, I guess I'll still be learning for a while.
This small batch of beets I boiled and used to make pickled eggs and beets. Oh, the beet leaves are edible too, but we're not fond of them, so we've been using them for bunny food.