I spent a good three hours outside yesterday, followed by a good couple of hours peeling and chopping. Mostly, I was sorting out the beetroot and blanching carrots. I planted a couple of rows of beetroot (about 5 m length between the two) and I’ve got more than enough for all my needs. Last year, I got a few, and they were delicious. They went entirely on pickles, as I love pickled beetroot – it appeals to my love of sweet and sour.
I planted two rows – one of a standard ‘cheap’ pack from Wilkinson’s, and one of a bolt-hardy organic T&M version. I’ve only started digging up the Wilkinson’s ones because they’re nearest and that ground is HARD! I managed to unearth some onions which were disappointingly small. Some had gone to seed. I don’t feel so bad because there’s a whole field of onions near Taponnat that have gone to seed, and unless he wanted seed, he’s going to be very cross, I imagine. They’ll do for pickling, too. It’s a good job I love pickles. One or two have grown to full size, but they’re disappointing, given how wet it’s been.
The beetroot, on the other hand, are perfect. I’ve already done two large jars of pickles and the rest will go for proper cooking. I’m going to do some roasted, possibly with mackerel, as recommended by Nigel Slater. I’m also going to make some beetroot relish – another love of mine. It’s that earthy sweetness that gets me. I profess, too, I love the pink-red blood stains. I love the leaves. I love everything about this vegetable. I’m also planning on making a beetroot seed cake – another Nigel Slater recipe. He’s obviously a fan of beetroot too.
I planted the beetroot on February 29th, and the first greenness appeared just as the land flooded at the beginning of May.
So from seed to shoot was about 4 weeks, then about another 4 to get to this size. And another three months to get to harvest size. To be honest, I could have pulled them out earlier. I also planted them fairly closely and didn’t thin out, which has kept them plentiful and of a good size. Last year, they were far too big – bigger than a cricket ball. This year, they’re between golf ball size and tennis ball size – so I’ve got a range for pickling and a range for roasting and salads. Yes, I end up with red fingers, but to be honest, that’s part of the pleasure.
Whilst I know I’m not of the same calibre as the wonderful Mavis of 100$ a month (although I aspire to be!) I had 4 kg of beetroot yesterday. Yes, I know. 4kg. And that’s about an 1/8th of it. Oh well. It’s all good. Plus, they store well, freeze well and make excellent pickles and chutneys and cakes.