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).

13th OCTOBER, 2019 – MY EXPERIMENTAL BEETROOT SEEDLINGS ARE FINALLY STARTING TO GROW

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.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.

Marcelene Cox

I HAVE BEEN WATCHING & WAITING, WATCHING & WAITING AND FINALLY, MY FRENCH BEANS ARE BEGINNING TO GROW – I’ve never grown beans before.

VIOLA (or Heartsease)

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous Spring days filled with sunshine and the chirping of birdsong.   Perfect day to be outdoors gardening.

I planned on potting up my new Spring seedling purchases, but didn’t quite finish the task.

A second round of plant shopping at the local Hardware/Plant Nursery Warehouse on Tuesday meant I ran out of plastic pots yesterday and I couldn’t decide on what size container to re-pot my pot-bound Blueberry “Nellie Kelly” anyway.

The trouble is that the next size up from the current Blueberry pot is really quite large and when filled with soil may end up being too heavy to lift.

I have to lift, or turn, my potted plants every couple of days as they tend to grow towards the west (where the sun travels after rising over my apartment building).  To get even foliage growth on each vegetable, herb or flower, turning the pots regularly is mandatory.  And once the hot summer arrives and the air-conditioning outlet on the balcony spews out hot air, I have to move the pots mostly up to the southern (or left-hand side as I look out my windows) of the balcony.

I shall have to go back to the Plant Nursery – a third time in a fortnight 😀

Bunnings Hardware Warehouse plant nursery
Plenty of herb and veggie seedlings to choose from.

Methinks I’m a plant shopaholic.

Put me in a large Plant store and I’m like a mischevous child in a lolly shop (candy store).

I often feel tempted to look around the plant aisles in case I’m caught in the act of over-indulging.  I always get a shock at the receipt $$$ after the cashier has rung up the items in my shopping basket.

So many colours and plant varieties at the store forced me, (yes, forced me 🙂 , well that’s my take on the matter), to splurge out on a couple of flowering plants to break up the  mass of greenery in my balcony garden.

It won’t be until the mid/end of Summer, that my herbs have any flowers.

Violas are undoubtedly one the most delightful of all flowers to grow with their delicately marked, almost hand-painted-looking dainty flowers.  They are a picture for months on end.

You can find them in just about every colour of the rainbow with many featuring multicoloured blooms.  Violas have slightly smaller flowers than Pansies (which I also viewed enthusiastically at the Plant Nursery).

I used some of the new Tomato/Herb potting soil which is probably a wee bit too akaline, but never mind, if they grow they grow, if they keel over with the new potting soil – they keel over.

I potted up this plant in an old low terracotta pot which was the only spare one left and would do nicely to sit on my desk.

(after breaking all my beautiful ornate expensive pottery containers some years ago when I lived on the south-east side of Melbourne, I stick to cheap plastic pots these days.   This low terracotta pot is the only ‘breakable’ one left).

My lounge room gets plenty of light from the floor-to-ceiling windows across the whole width of the room.

(I have grown vegatables and herbs indoors, but some don’t like the reverse cycle heater/air-conditioner on the wall).

At least I got the Peace Lily (indoors) repotted up to a larger pot 😀

Supposed to rain today, so I’ll be indoors ‘pretending’ to do the ironing and household chores 🙂

P.S. I almost forgot, not in the photo above, but I bought another large Mint bush.   Can’t have the little Fairy-wrens running out of their favourite grazing ‘salad’.

So that makes 3 lush Mint bushes in round, or higher, pots and the rather pitiful remnants of the original mint plant in the low trough which the Superb Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows use as a smorgasbord for morning and afternoon tea.

The Mint in the low trough keeps sprouting new leaves and the Wrens and Sparrows keep snacking on the new young leaves leaving a rather untidy stunted mess.

Here’s a re-run of some of the images you’ve seen before (below).   The bush in the low trough looks rather unsightly, but since my young avian friends enjoy their picnic on the bush(es), I can’t bear to toss it out in favour of a large, more robust bush.

NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

If you’ve been following my nature blog and reading about my balcony garden exploits in the past, you’ll be pleased to hear…..

I saw a BLUE berry yesterday…….

Then I turned over leaves where I knew bundles of green berries had been hiding…….

Ate all the 6-7 berries straight off the bush……and then went to get the cotton bird netting to cover it.  Only comment I can say is that I hope the rest ripen through the netting.

…..and I hope, what I suspect is……the plant is pot-bound and that doesn’t affect the future ripening.  If the bush grows much larger, I’ll have to give it to my brother to plant in the ground up at his farm.

I suppose I should cut off a piece, but since it was a small roll of netting, I’ve just bundled the excess up with a rubber band and left it on the ground.

Whoopee! 😀

Blueberries for Christmas.