BEETROOT (Beta vulgaris)

In all my images and posts on my Balcony Garden this Spring, I think I forgot to mention Beetroot.   I love the tiny leaves in salads and the larger leaves as a steamed vegetable.   These larger leaves are an acquired taste though.   They’re stronger in taste than spinach.

A bit like Sorrel, but perhaps not as bitter.   Perhaps Kale is a better comparison?

In general, the leaves attached to the Beets in the supermarket are pretty stale and I throw them in the bin, but fresh, green and not too large, like those I bought a couple of weeks ago, are delicious.

Organic Beetroot from the Collingwood Children’s Farm farmer’s market near inner Melbourne

This Spring, for the first time, rather impulsively, I bought a punnet of seedlings and planted them in my large veggie trough as an experiment.   I don’t really have the room or deep enough pots for root vegetables, although I’m always open to a challenge – Trial and Error is my gardening philosophy (and some might say……my second name).

My book Small Space Big Harvest mentions root vegetables though (ISBN 978-1-74033-338-2).   By the way, I just love this book my brother gave me for Christmas 2 years ago.

It’s packed full of great advice, creative ideas, but more importantly, very good photos.  Many of the images are close-ups and much better than most gardening books.

I like to see examples in gardening and cookery books.


You’ll never ever know (if you never have a go).


Beetroot, as we call them in Australia (the U.S. calls them Beets), are an excellent root crop (and apparently will store for months).  Growing up in my family meant beetroot was on the menu daily in the summer and we never stored them fresh in a root cellar or dark pantry, as we ate seasonally from my Mother’s large vegetable garden (with the summer excess bottled and/or made into sauces or chutneys).   I don’t remember seeing bottled beetroot in the enormous dark cupboard above our fridge.  Perhaps we only ate it in summer.


In more recent times, I’ve started roasting them.  I even tried juicing them in my Nutri Bullet.   (my juice extractor died about 15-20 years ago and I never replaced it as it was such a chore to wash all the attachments).   I’m seriously thinking about buying another juicer, but in the small galley kitchen I have in this studio apartment, not sure where I’d put it.

Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitaminB9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.

Beetroot is best grown quickly and responds well to fertiliser.  Beetroots require well drained, friable soil in a well mulched, sunny spot according to the plant nursery label.   The label also says to harvest when the roots are no bigger than a tennis ball.

IF mine grow, and I had my doubts for the first 3 weeks or so, I’ll probably be harvesting the beets when they’re much smaller.


13 thoughts on “BEETROOT (Beta vulgaris)

  1. GREAT POST!!! My mother always pickled our beets, which I did a few years ago. Mom wasn’t able to do the canning anymore and dad said it made him nervous. Strange how I canned so many and most are still in the basement. I wasn’t a really big fan… I haven’t tried eating the tops but maybe I will next time around. My parents didn’t eat “greens” and I didn’t until I lived in Mississippi and my neighbor got me hooked kale. I did make Borsch once and it was ASOME! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It’s a REAL experiment growing it in such a small shallow space, Peggy, but you never know. I’ll keep you all updated when my crops mature, or should I say IF they mature. Leafy greens are easy to grow in a small space, but beetroot…..hmmmm.

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  2. Beetroot – love them cooked, raw, pickled and roasted with parsnips.
    See what you’ve done, made me feel hungry 😋
    Kale, I remember seeing it on sale last year and was a little confused: called out to my wife in a supermarket “they are selling Kale, it’s a animal feed!!!” she disowned me for a bit. Out of UK a long time me thinks. Like Dates here, my Omani friends wouldn’t give them to their goats, and Figs are priced per fig!
    I can see why you grow your own.

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    1. David, the price of food, especially fresh food, is disgraceful in Australia. My American friend was shocked when we compared and she buys organic (which is about 2 1/2 times the price of commercially grown food here. Farmer’s markets, the few there are, have beautiful produce, but their prices are even worse. I like Mejool dates and even buy them occasionally and yes, Figs are terribly expensive here too, I eat Kale for the high nutrition content and the fact it’s so easy to grow on my balcony, not because I like it. Same with Sorrel grown on my balcony. I cut it back to 1″ stubble intending to take it out and replace it with something less bitter, but 3-4 later it’s grown back fresher and more vigorous than ever.

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    1. But beetroot is soooooo good for you, Ted 😉 The only really unsavoury root veggie in my eyes is turnip. Supposed to be good in vegetable soup, but it’s too strong in taste for me.

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  3. I had no idea that beetroot means beets. I’ve always enjoyed pickled beets, but we sometimes had them as a side veggie, too, and they were good. I’ve never cooked them from scratch, for some reason. I suppose part of the reason is that my grandmother and mother always home canned them, so buying them in glass jars at the store seemed reasonable. I’ve not had any for ages. I need to remedy that.

    The farmers’ market where I got has several kinds of kale, and a couple of varieties are pretty good. I can’t remember their names right now. I think they’re ‘Russian’ and ‘red.’ Anyway, the leaves are milder and not so tough as the curly kale.

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    1. Depending on the size, beetroot can take about 1 1/2 hours to cook, but they’re still worth cooking at home. I’m planning on catching a taxi to the Queen Victoria Market in North Melbourne today to buy some organic veggies, then around the corner to visit my Father in his nursing home.

      Organic beetroot are superb in that they are picked fairly young and have really good fresh leaves to steam for dinner. Two vegetable varieties in the one plant. I’ll have to get some more sweet potatoes and a bunch of spinach to try your recipe too. I wish we had organic veggie stalls at the fresh Asian Market near me, but I suspect the poorer people on this side of the city can’t afford organic and there is no demand. I can get organic home delivered, but it’s a little expensive that way.

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