Beet Root, Growing, Health Benefits, Uses

Growing Beat Root In India :

Betta vulgaris

Beetroot is so simple to grow in your Yummy Yard, and homegrown beets tastes ten times better than the stuff from the can that they put on your “hamburger with the lot”. Read on to find out why “they can’t be beeten”.

Planting Schedule

Warm Areas: All Year (not when too wet)
Temperate Areas: July to March

Cool to Cold Areas: September to February

Place to Plant :

Position-wise, beetroots aren’t overly fussy. They’ll tolerate full sun to part shade and even do fairly well in dappled light under a deep rooted tree. Oh, and don’t forget that beets do beetifully in containers, especially the polystyrene fruit boxes you get from your green grocers… now that’s sustainable!

Water Supply:

Like most root vegies (yup, I’m talking about carrots and parsnip) beetroots need a rich, well-drained soil, chock full of organic matter like compost and manures. Drainage is the key so, if you’re faced with a heavy, clay soil, improve its structure with lashings of delicious compost! And maybe consider putting in some raised beds!.

Water deeply and keep the soil around emerging seedlings damp. Regular watering will help keep the beets from going woody but don’t flood them.

Plantation :

Just like carrots, beetroots tend to do best if planted from seed rather than seedlings. The seed itself is a weird looking “cluster” of a few true seeds in a corky coating. Unlike carrots though, these seeds will benefit from a soak in water overnight… you’ll get better results, trust me!

To plant the seeds, make a 2cm deep trench, and pop them in about 2cm apart. Cover the seeds lightly with seed raising mix or a fluffy compost. Keep the area damp (not soaking wet) and in about two weeks your baby beets will appear. You will probably find you need to “Jenny Craig” them ie thin them out. Do this by spreading and removing beets so that there are around 6 – 8cm between each beet plant. This will give them the personal space they need to grow!

Feed Me

The faster beetroot grows the tastier and tender it will be. The key to this is feeding. At planting time, I’d be whacking in some organic chook-poo based pellets to give your beets a kick along. I’d follow this up periodically with a drink of seaweed-based fertilisers as these contain everything needed for good healthy roots.

As with all root vegies, fertilisers high in nitrogen are unnecessary and totally counter-productive. Nitrogen puts on top leaf growth but does nothing for the roots beneath.

Harvesting :

Beetroot, as root vegies go, is one of the most obliging in terms of letting you know when it’s ready to harvest. This is because you can see beetroot crown above the soil surface. This makes it dead easy to assess the size of your beets and harvest when appropriate. How good is that? As a rough guide beets grown from seed are ready to roll from about ten weeks onward, depending on the size of the beets required. Make sure you harvest them before they get too big – I generally remove mine before they are 6-7cm across, otherwise they can be really tough and taste rubbish!

Pests Protection :

Beetroots are amazingly pest free especially in a diverse, well-monitored patch. The only thing that will really knock them for six is too much water at an early age. Really wet soil leads to what’s known as “damping off”, a highly technical term that explains why seedings fail. Essentially it’s a fungal disease that thrives in cold, wet soil, and picks on the weak and vulnerable eg seeds and seedlings. As they say, timing is everything, so plant beets when soil is warming and the wet season has well and truly passed.

Health Benefits of Beat Root :

 Control blood pressure levels

 Beetroot is a great source of nitrates, which when consumed, is converted to nitrites and a gas called nitric oxides. Both these components help to widen the arteries and lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that having just about 500 grams of beetroot every day reduces a person’s blood pressure in about six hours.

 Reduces  cholesterol and prevent plaque formation:

Beetroot is known to contain large amounts of soluble fibres, flavanoids and betacyanin. Betacyanin is the compound that gives beetroot its purplish-red colour and is also a powerful antioxidant.  It helps reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and does not allow it to deposit on the walls of the artery. This protects the heart from potential heart attacks and stroke reducing the need for medication.

Prescribe for pregnant women :

Another amazing quality of the root is that it has an abundant supply of folic acid. Folic acid is important for pregnant mums and unborn babies because it is an essential component for the proper formation of the unborn child’s spinal cord, and can protect the child from conditions such as spina bifida (is a congenital disorder where the child’s spinal cord does not form completely and in most cases looks like it has been divided into two at the base). Beetroot also gives mums-to-be that extra energy boost required during pregnancy. 

Beats osteoporosis

Beetroot is packed with mineral silica, an important component for the body to use calcium efficiently. Since calcium makes up our bones and teeth, having a glass of beetroot juice a day could help keep conditions such as osteoporosis and brittle bone disease at bay.

Keeps diabetes under control

People suffering from diabetes can fulfil their sweet craving by adding a little beetroot in their diet. Being a medium glycaemic index vegetable (means it releases sugars very slowly into the blood), it aids in maintaining your blood sugar levels low while satiating your sugar craving.  Also, this vegetable is low in calories and fat-free making it a perfect vegetable for diabetics.

Treats anaemia

It is a common myth that because beetroot is reddish in colour, it replaces lost blood and is therefore good to treat anaemia. While this may sound a bit outrageous to many, there is a partial truth hidden in the myth. Beetroot contains a lot of iron. Iron helps in the formation of haemagglutinin, which is a part of the blood that helps transport oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. It is the iron content and not the colour that helps treat anaemia.

Helps relieve fatigue

A study presented at the American Diabetics association’s conference stated that beetroot helps boost a person’s energy. They said that due to its nitrate content it helped dilate the arteries thereby helping in the proper transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body, increasing a person’s energy. Another theory was that because the root is a rich source of iron, it helps in improving a person’s stamina. Whatever the source, a pick-me-up at the end of a tiring day can be just what one needs.

Improves sexual health and stamina

Also known as ‘natural Viagra’, beetroot has been commonly used in a number of ancient customs to boost one’s sexual health. Since the vegetable is a rich source of nitrates it helps release nitric oxide into the body, widening the blood vessels, and increasing blood flow to the genitals – a mechanism that medicines like Viagra seek to replicate. Another factor is that beetroot contains a lot of boron, a chemical compound that is important for the production of the human sex hormone. So the next time, ditch the blue pill and have some beetroot juice instead.

Protects you from cancer

The betacyanin content in beetroot has another very important function. In a study done at the Howard University, Washington DC, it was found that betacyanin helped slow the growth of tumours by 12.5 percent in patients with breast and prostate cancer. This effect not only helps in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers but it also helps cancer survivors remain cancer-free longer.

Beats constipation

Because of its high soluble fibre content, beetroot acts as a great laxative. It helps in regularising your bowel movement by softening stools. It also cleanses the colon and flushes out the harmful toxins from the stomach.

 Boosts brain power A study done at the University of Exeter, UK, showed that drinking beetroot juice could increase a person’s stamina by 16 percent, because of its nitrate content. Known to increase the oxygen uptake by the body, the study also found that because of this one factor, it could also help in the proper functioning of the brain and beat the onset of dementia.  It has also been seen that nitrate when converted to nitrite helps in the better transmission of neural impulses, making the brain work better.

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