This sweet salad-vegetable has a high food value. It needs good deep soil and is best suited to occupy a place where a previous non-root crop has been grown. Do not add fresh manure as this is inclined to cause forking of the root. If instead of growing vegetables in the kitchen garden, they are grown in the old-fashioned cottager’s way interspersed with flowering plants, the beetroot is a most suitable plant, since the round or turnip-shaped beet has generally fine decorative crimson leaves. In addition to the round beet, there are two other forms obtainable, a long-rooted, and an intermediate type, called tankard or canister-shaped. Good named kinds are: ‘Crimson Globe’, ‘Veitch’s Intermediate’, ‘Cheltenham Green Top’ and ‘Nutting’s Red Globe’. All are forms of Beta vulgaris.
Cultivation The soil must be of an open well-worked, but not recently manured type. Ammonium sulphate should be given at the rate of 28g (1 oz) per sq m (sq yd), potassium sulphate at the same rate, and 110g (4oz) of calcium superphosphate also to each sq m (sq yd).
Sow the globe-rooted beet in April; the others may follow in May. Make drills, 30cm (12in) apart, space seeds 13cm (5in) apart. A point to note is that each so-called ‘seed’ is, in fact, a ‘seed-ball’ containing several seeds and more than one may germinate. It is necessary to single the seedlings to one at each point when they are 2.5cm (1 in) high.
Another most important point to remember with this crop is the extreme care required when the roots are harvested. On no account should root or top growth be damaged, or the result is quite likely to be a most unpalatable, anaemic-looking thing instead of the rich wine-red and appetizing vegetable it should be. The roots should be only shaken free of soil as they are dug in August or September, and then stored in a shed, giving some cover in the form of dry soil, peat or leaves. Top growth may be carefully twisted off to avoid damage. Do not leave the roots to get hard and woody before digging them. After the beets have been cooked they may be cut without damaging the appearance of them, but if they are cut before cooking their appearance will certainly be spoiled.