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.