"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvesting Beets & Greens


Beets were harvested this week and we were quite pleased with the results, about 70% of them filled out nicely, the rest were either damaged by mice or too small to bother with. Pictured in the cooler are some of the better looking greens that were set aside to be blanched and frozen. Interestingly, your average beet is supposed to take 55-80 days from the time it germinates to maturity, mine normally take between 90 and 120 days. The above beets were planted in mid-May and just recently reached a harvestable size.

The mice damage was my own fault, I should have been paying better attention and either hilled dirt around the roots in early September or set out mouse traps as this is often an issue we face in the fall. Near as I can tell the mice will not dig for roots and only snack on the parts remaining above the soil which makes beets, and sometimes carrots, an irresistible target for them. Gonna have to have a little chat with those cats about earning their keep...one of them even lives in our greenhouse during the summer and has apparently not been doing as good a job at rodent control as I had thought.

After harvesting, the tops are trimmed leaving about an inch of stem remaining, keeping some of the stem intact helps to keep them from spoiling. They are then placed into totes and coolers, layered in ever so slightly damp sandy soil, and stored in our root cellar. Beets are one of our longest storing root crops, some remaining in excellent eating condition for well over a year. This year's crop included Detroit Dark Red, Crosby's Egyptian, Lutz, Cylindria, Crapaudine, Boltardy, a few golden beets whose name slips me, and a new to us variety called Red Cloud (hybrid) that performed extremely well this year...wish I would have grown a few more of those.

31 comments:

Dani said...

Yummy - I'm salivating LOL

Now, what is your favourite beet recipe?

Kumi said...

I harvested a nice bunch of radishes yesterday, but now I'm wishing that I had planted beets... I LOVE beets, and this is on my list for next year. Good to know about the rodents and beets!

Jane said...

I always have to laugh at those days to maturity recommendations. I never have anything make those time tables. Potatoes, cabbage, etc always takes longer. I just thought it was me and this weird black hole I must live under.

Mark Willis said...

How odd that it should take so much longer for your beets to mature than is supposed to be the case. Anyway, you have harvested a decent crop which will keep you supplied for a long while. Maybe you'll try some of my Beet(root) and Caraway soup??

Granola Girl said...

Beets! They are on the list for next year. Have you all every tried growing them during the fall and overwintering? There is almost no water here in the summer and we are off hiking so much I worry they would die. We were hoping to cold frame and grow from September through till the spring. Any thoughts?

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Is there anything you can't grow? Those are some lovely beets..and the greens look good too :o) ( you know I love greens ..all kinds) make sure you get some country ham to flavor those collards :o)

Buttons said...

Oh I love beets I did not plant any this year everything was so late for me I did not take the chance. I am laughing about your lazy cats :).
I still have most things in my garden I dug the potatoes and a few carrots I am falling behind.
I love hearing your garden tales. B

AJK said...

Wow that's a lot of beets! Next year we'll grow some.

We got our cat because of rodent issues too. Our white guava and persimmon were getting nibbled on by mice.

Now we just deal with giant, fearless squirrels. Our neighbor thinks it's cute to feed them, so they jump right onto our fig tree in front of us and start eating while our cat looks at it from below. argggghh

granny said...

Beautiful beet harvest Mr H !
The amount of food you grow just amazes me.
Do you grow any grains ???

Mr. H. said...

Dani - Honestly, we mostly grate them raw over our salads but are looking forward to trying Mark's Beet and Caraway soup
.:)

Kumi - Beets are nice and even if they don't turn out there is always the beet greens to look forward to.

Jane - Glad to hear that I am not alone, I thought perhaps I had a "slow" garden or something.:)

Mark - I just checked out your beet recipe and it looks really good, I am looking forward to trying it.

Granola Girl - I can plant super quick growing Purple Top turnips in September for a November crop but beets just grow way to slow for me to use them as you suggested. Your climate is different than mine and perhaps you get a bit more winter sun than we do so don't let my inability to grow beets in the winter discourage you from trying.

Ginny - I can't grow a decent leek or radish no matter how hard I try.:) The greens are indeed good.

Buttons - They are kind of lazy, just ask the little black kitten that is hindering my ability to type this.:) I'll tell you what though, without cats we would be in a world of hurt in regards to mice taking over everything...our chickens even catch mice sometimes.

AJK - So far we have not had any issues with squirrels...fingers crossed. We do have a few on the property but they are more interested in the pine cones...fingers crossed that is stays that way. Hope you do add beets to your garden veggie collection next time around.

Granny - We have grown small sections of wheat and flax just for the experience of growing them and hope to someday grow more of these grains on a larger scale to help suppliment us and our chickens diet. We have to grow a lot because we will be covered in snow for the next 5 months...brr.:)

Justin said...

Beets! We just PLANTED our beet garden (down here in the desert...). They are about 1 inch high. We love to pickle most of 'em, and grate the on salads.

Mr. H. said...

Justin - That's great, can you believe I have never tried them pickled. I'll have to try them that way.

kitsapFG said...

Excellent beet harvest! I am totally in awe of your harvest - both greens and tops. Like you, my beets take a much longer time to mature than the seed packets would have you believe. I learned that along time ago and plant in late spring for fall harvests. I am able to leave mine in the ground though (under a grow tunnel though) through the fall and winter because our winters are so much milder than you experience. Makes storage simpler! I did plant a mid summer crop of golden beets which are coming along well, but they are not fully sized up and I am not sure if they will continue to size up through the fall or just sit dormant until early spring and then bolt to seed. Guess I will wait and find out!

Mavis said...

Your beets reminded me I have a bunch in the frig. Thanks for the reminder! Tonight I'll make roasted veggies! :)

Mr. H. said...

Laura - It's good to hear that I'm not alone in needing a long season to get beets to fill out. Best of luck with your late planted golden beets, we only grew a few this season because I don't have the best luck with the golden variety...so of course they all did pretty well for a change.:)

Mavis - Mmm, roasted beets, bet they were good.:)

Leigh said...

So many types of beets! How do you manage to saves seeds from them all?

I've noticed that some things I grow take longer to mature than they're "supposed" to. Never sure why, but it's nice to know someone else has experienced the same things.

Heiko said...

This winter we are having a real go at building up the soil rather than uselessly digging down the hard soil just so it can compact itself again after the next rain. So maybe the year after we'll have a better rootcrop season. At least now we have some Jerusalem artichokes. :)

Mr. H. said...

Leigh - Of those beets listed I will only be focused on saving Crapaudine, Cylindrical, and Detroit. Check out my seed saving schedual/work in progress. I certainly wish I could save them all but it is beyond the scope of my ability at this time.

Heiko - Glad to hear it, that should make a world of difference. Some time you will have to take a look at Helen Attowe's site , especially the part focused on living mulch and agroecology experiments for soil building. I am convinced that this is the way to a sustainable system of better soil. We have been putting this into practice for two years now and are quite happy with the results.

permaculturecottage said...

I am in awe at the sheer amount of produce you manage to grow...I take my hat off to you! There is a lovely recipe for Beetroot Chutney I made this year...and my fav eat of all time is a pickled Beetroot sandwich, with tea...yummy!
Colette

Elizabeth said...

So, about those greens....
Do you and Mrs. H eat them fresh or boil them up to freeze and eat later?

Mr. H. said...

Colette - It seems like a lot but we will be wishing for more come spring. A pickled beetroot sandwich sounds really good and so does the chutney...I've got to get around to pickling some beets, can you believe I have never tried them that way before.

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - We "borrow" greens from the beets all summer long to eat fresh in our daily salads but at the end of the season we blanch and freeze the majority of them to eat as cooked greens because there are just way to many for us to use up.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

In my experience female cats are more reliable catching mice than males. That what usually happens at my parents. Your beet and previous harvest post is so amazing. Enjoy looking at them much.

Mr. H. said...

Malay Kadazan Girl - We have two males and two females, one of the males is just a kitten so he doesn't really count. Between the three older cats two of them do a fairly good job of catching rodents but apparently not good enough...it's my fault though, they are fat and lazy because I feed them too much.:)

Anne said...

Oh those lovely beet greens... they are one of my favorites! We also had a lot of nibbling on our root crops. A LOT of damage.. but there is always next year I suppose..

Mr. H. said...

Anne - Yes, it's always a challenge to keep one step ahead of all the mice and other critters that want to share in the bounty isn't it.

sylvie in Rappahannock said...

Mice have been a problem this year too here -- for the first time. They have been going after our sweet potatoes - seriously reducing the yield in one bed. I also wondered if they've gone after peppers....Yep, got to talk to some of those cats too....

sylvie in Rappahannock said...

Regarding time to maturity - I think many of the catalogs indicate the time to small-to-medium ones sold at Farmers' markets, not the big ones that those that grow to store want...

Mr. H. said...

Sylvie - Yes, too bad about the mice this year...we pulled our beets earlier than I would have liked because they were doing so much damage. Sorry to hear about your sweet potatoes. By the way, I really enjoyed the article you wrote on them in your last newsletter.

foodgardenkitchen said...

More evidence that seed packets lie! Maybe under completely optimal (perhaps even greenhouse) conditions will most things mature in the stated time period. Less than optimal conditions? Add 50-100%!

Mr. H. said...

Foodgardenkitchen - Glad I'm not alone in seeing this...I was starting to wonder if it was just me.:)

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