While most gardeners grow beetroot for pickling, remember it also makes an excellent addition to a meal served hot and the leaves can be treated like spinach, which adds to its versatility. Some believe the long-rooted types, which store particularly well, have a better flavour than the ball-rooted ones.
It does best in an open position, free from shade, on light, but rich soil which has not been freshly manured. Acid soils are best limed prior to sowing. The seed of most varieties (other than the monogerm types) is actually a cluster of seeds, so seedlings may need careful thinning.
Sow outdoors thinly, March-July, where they are to crop, 2.5cm(1in) deep, directly into finely-prepared, well cultivated, fertile soil, which has already been watered and enriched with well-rotted garden compost or manure . Allow 30cm(1ft) between rows. Seedlings usually appear in 7-21 days. Thin seedlings to 10cm(4in) apart, or 5cm(2in) apart for baby beet. Water well until plants are established. Regular sowings, made every three weeks, should ensure a continuous supply of young beets. Harvested roots can be stored in dry sand for winter use.