When C.L. Fornari, the genius garden blogger behind “You Can Grow That” suggested that for the month of February, we pick a plant related to the theme of love, I had to think about it. I considered the plants I love, or the plants that symbolize romance, and I was kind of stumped. February is a tough month for planting, around here anyway. So, I decided to be contrarian, and write about beets.
I have to confess that we don’t love beets at our house. When we had a CSA membership, I tried to like them. I roasted them, which is my favorite with most veggies, and I threw them in stir-fry (which made everything weirdly pink) and I marinated them…not popular. I did learn that I liked beet greens, though. A friend insists that beet greens taste just like beets, but I disagree. Or maybe it’s the texture. Anyway, when I saw directions for forcing root crops in a pot, I thought to myself, that’s a good way to get greens without having to actually eat beets.
The directions come from Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest, which is a funky combination of a book- part how-to garden tome, part we-went-to-the-south-of-France-and-drove-around-looking-at-gardens-in-winter travelogue. My kind of book, in other words.
Coleman describes taking beets, or turnips, or celeriac, putting the roots in damp sand in a sunny window, and eating the greens that sprout.
I decided to start the experiment with beets. I bought a cute bunch, and cut off the leaves that they came with to sautee, then eat in garlic soup (really tasty- follow this link!)
I then filled a 6 inch pot 1/3 of the way with potting soil, then put in the roots, then covered with soil and watered.
The roots won’t get any bigger- storage crops are biennial. During the first summer, they put energy into the root. When they send up leaves again, they use the energy store in the root to prepare for blooming. This means you don’t have to worry about leaving room in the pot for root growth.
We haven’t gotten enough for a big salad, but there should be leaves to add to stir-fry or soup or whatever. I’m adding some to Quinoa salad tonight. I hope it doesn’t turn weirdly pink.