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.
At Beningbrough we love beetroot. In fact we grow an enormous amount of it which is harvested regularly to be enjoyed in the restaurant. If you fancy 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, spring is the 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.
Have a go at growing your own
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.
" Sow a few seeds every two weeks for an ongoing harvest, rather than a glut."
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.
- Most beetroot are best sown outside April - July, or check your packet if it's a specific variety.
- You can sow bolt resistant varieties under fleece or cloches from late February and early March.
- 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 when they were 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.
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.