An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm
The fall and winter months are perfect for growing root veggies. These backyard garden staples don’t care for the warm weather that late spring and summer brings, but they excel in the cooler months. Beets are one of the more overlooked root vegetables, but their nutritional package says they shouldn’t be!
Beets are easy to direct-seed in your backyard garden once the nighttime temperatures get into the 60s in the fall months. Some gardeners recommend thinning them, but we’ve found they’ll push each other out the way as they grow. Plant them relatively thick and you won’t have to worry about weeds creeping between them.
Because they’re a root vegetable, they’ll benefit from frequent feeding with AgroThrive Fruit & Flower Fertilizer. Feed them every other week to make some beautiful beet greens and tennis ball-sized beet roots. Below we’ll discuss some of the different colors of beets that you can grow, and the differences between each type.
This the most common type of beet and the richness of the red color will vary slightly from one variety to the next. Some varieties will have a bright red color while others are closer to a deep purple. The red to purple coloration comes from the betacyanin pigments in the beet root.
Red beets are the “earthiest” of the beet colors. They have a distinct flavor that you either like or you don’t. If you don’t care for the earthy flavor of red beets, try pickling them. Pickled red beets are delicious and can be preserved in jars so that you have a steady supply all year.
Red beets are a great source of folate, manganese, potassium, and fiber. They’re rich in antioxidants, which combat free radicals in the body and promote skin health. They also contain some iron and vitamin C, making them a nutritional home run that you can grow in your backyard garden.
There are many different varieties of red beets on the market. Merlin is one of our favorites because it tends to have a higher sugar content than other varieties. Other popular varieties include the Detroit Dark Red Beet and the Early Wonder Tall Top Beet.
Yellow or golden beets have a milder, sweeter flavor than red beets. These are a great option if you don’t care for the intense, earthy flavor of red beets. Because they’re yellow and not red, they have fewer betacyanin pigments than red beets.
Yellow beets still have many of the great nutritional benefits as red beets. They’re loaded with folate, manganese, potassium, and dietary fiber to keep your digestive system happy. They are also a good source of antioxidants to fight those free radicals.
In addition to the beet root being a different color, the greens on yellow beets also look different. They’ll often have yellow golden veins as opposed to the red and purple veins you see in red beet leaves. Be sure to save the greens because they’re delicious!
You won’t find as many choices when it comes to yellow beet seeds. Our favorite is a variety called Touchstone Gold, but we’ve also grown a golden variety called Boldor. Both do well for us, and I’d highly recommend either one.
These are the least common of the three beet colors and are the least earthy of the three. If you want the health benefits of beets with little to no earthy flavor, white beets are for you! Because they lack coloration, they don’t have the betacyanin pigments found in red and yellow beets. They do still contain folate, manganese, potassium, and fiber, but they don’t have as many antioxidants as the colored beet varieties.
White beet seeds are also the toughest to find. The only white variety we’ve ever grown is Avalanche, and it is a consistent performer for us. It’s important to note that there are also “candy cane” beets which have red and white stripes. These are less earthy than a completely red beet, but still maintain some of the nutritional benefits of red beets. You’ll often find a striped variety called “Chioggia” from your favorite seed retailer, and this is a great one to grow.
It’s important to note that the nutritional differences between beet colors is minimal, but the differences in earthy flavor can be quite significant. We recommend growing all three colors to see which ones you like the best. And if you’re like us, you’ll want to grow each color every year to have a colorful medley of roasted beets on your plate in the cooler months!
Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hotsauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.