Reddish-Purple Beet 'Greens' In The Greenhouse
Even if you do not like beets (canned specimens don't count), you should still sow a few rows of beet seeds in your garden this year. Why? Well, just look at this photo. Has there been anything so gorgeous gracing your salad plate lately? I didn't think so.
Beets are not only extremely easy to grow but are also amazingly good for you. Beets from the garden are like nothing you will find in the supermarket produce aisle. And while I have been known to devour an embarrassingly large plate of freshly picked, diced beets (no need to peel them) that were slowly cooked in olive oil until caramalized, and then mixed with lots and lots of chopped garlic and cooked for a minute or two more, I mainly grow beets for their greens.
One of my favorite varieties to plant is Bull's Blood. Its roots are sweet and tasty (especially when small) and they have lovely pink rings inside. But I recently learned that this popular heirloom is actually grown primarily for its baby leaves, which are ready in as little as 35 days and are, according to my Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog, "all the rage in salads." The folks at High Mowing Organic Seeds claim that they are organic gardening pioneer "Eliot Coleman's choice for a red leaf in winter harvest salad mixes." I had no idea I was so chic. If you do plan to harvest the roots as well as the greens, be sure to thin out your young plants.
So besides what I planted in my raised beds last spring, I also sowed a short row of Bull's Blood beet seeds in the greenhouse last September. This gave them plenty of time to get a good start and provide me with lots of tender greens before the weather became too cold for them to do much growing. Then I simply left them alone while they went into a sort of hibernative state (okay, I snipped a few leaves here and there throughout the winter). They required no care except for watering, and survived when outside temperatures dipped as low as -3F protected with nothing more than floating row covers and old sheets. (Freezing temps predicted? Don't water your plants that day, as they will survive the cold much better if their soil is dry.)
Starting in early March, my faithful beets sprang into action and (helped along with a heavy side dressing of llama pellets and generous, regular watering) started growing like mad. So for very little effort, I am now being rewarded with a delightful and delicious addition to my early spring salads. And you really can't beet that.
Note: This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #27, a deliciously informative event hosted by Kalyn's Kitchen. Food bloggers from around the world participate, and you never know what interesting new edibles you'll discover each week in the Sunday night roundup. This also fits right in with ARF/5-A-Day. Catch it every Tuesday night at Sweetnicks.