Growing Beningbrough's beetroots

A hand pulling beetroot from the ground

If you’ve been to Beningbrough and helped us plant out beets for the season, or you’ve met one of our team on your travels, then you must have in your possession one of  Beningbrough’s special packets of beetroot seeds to plant out for yourself.

Fantastically healthy, fabulously coloured and packed with wonderful flavour. There’s a lot to get excited about with beetroot. 

We've a few tips on growing your own from head gardener Sam, and a fantastic recipe idea for you........

Why beetroot?

At Beningbrough we love beetroot. In fact we grow an enormous amount of it which is harvested regularly to be enjoyed in the restaurant. In growing your own beetroot you’ll be following in the steps of the ancient Romans who considered the beetroot to be (amongst other things) an aphrodisiac.....So wellies on, trowels at the ready it’s time to get those seeds into the ground so that come September you’ll be able to experience first-hand the many delights this jewel of a vegetable has to offer.

First things first; beetroot comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, textures and colours. In addition to the main shade of purple most people associate with the beetroot there are ruby reds, pinks, oranges, white & multi-coloured varieties too. The little packet of seeds you have in your hands is especially lovely with its delicate pink and white circles of flesh. The Barabietola di Chioggia or traditional Italian “bullseye” beetroot promises to deliver a crop that is not only beautiful to look at but delicious to boot. 

Getting Started

Sow outside directly where they are to grow or sow into large pots with room to grow.

  • Prepare the soil by digging over and adding well-rotted manure or garden compost.
  • Make a fine tilth on the soil then make a small channel, spread the seed evenly along the line. (Alternatively sow spaced out in pots and cover with light sprinkle of soil).
  • When the seedlings are about 2.5cm (1in) high, thin out to leave one seedling per 10cm (4in). 
  • Remember to keep the ground moist to help prevent bolting.
  • The variety Barabietola di Chioggia is best sown outside April - June.

Harvest

  • Pull up alternate plants once they have reached golf ball size to use as a tasty treat in the kitchen, leaving the others to reach maturity.
  • Harvest these when they are the size of a cricket ball, generally between August and November depending on time sown and growing conditions.

Not just a pretty colour

For your efforts you will be rewarded with a delicious and bountiful harvest which can be enjoyed in a whole host of ways. Not only (it is claimed) does beetroot offer a cure for hangovers but amongst other things it is used as natural red dye.

Enjoy your trip with a cuppa and a cake
Cakes and bakes

Frosted spiced beetroot cake 

If you're looking for inspiration with your freshly harvested beetroot then a firm favourite in the Beningbrough walled garden restaurant is this moist and delicious cake.

Cooking with beetroot

It is also a fantastic ingredient in the kitchen so whether you enjoy it grated raw over a salad or prefer it as a traditional compliment to your Sunday roast, the beetroot is a surprisingly versatile addition to your larder.

Baking is another arena in which the beetroot shines and this cake is one you can enjoy in the Beningbrough walled garden restaurant in autumn or try making yourself.

The National Trust cookbook

If you've enjoyed making this recipe and want to have a go and trying out other favourites from your visits to National Trust places, you can pick up your own copy of the cookbook at most of our shops - including the stables shop at Beningbrough. We particularly recommend the Christmas pudding scone on p.200 from our friends at nearby Treasurer's House.