Beets! When the family gathers around the seed catalogs and veggies being selected for this year’s home garden there is a definite scale of enthusiasm for the different varieties. Tomatoes are cheered, and cucumbers too. Fresh potatoes have their fans and everyone loves sweet corn. But when it comes to beta vulgaris, the humble beet? Not so much.
But there are beets, and then there are beets. The common red beet from a can or frozen packet is uninspiring at best but fresh from the garden to the pot the result is a tender, almost sweet vegetable with a subtle flavor not present in processed examples. Cold fresh beet salad is very good indeed and recipes for offbeat beet recipes abound on the internet.
But all beets are not red beets. There are mild tasting white ones. There are golden beets, very pleasant in taste and appearance and there are the attractive striped or chiogga beets. And don’t forget the greens! Beet greens are loved by those who are not enthusiastic about the root itself.
Beets have the virtue of being early both into and out of the garden. The seeds can be planted well before the last frost date in spring and with a short growth period and be on the table in 60 days. Of course, beets make a great fall crop as well.
Is there anything else interesting about beets? They are one of nature’s great anti hypertension agents, and the juice is particularly potent. The greens are a tremendous source of vitamin C.
If you already enjoy beets you’ll be sure to include them in the back yard garden patch but even if you are not, this may be the year to give them a second chance from a different point of view.
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