Micro beets have become increasingly popular over the last few years and for good reason. Not only are they easy to grow (under 4 inches tall), but they taste great! In fact, the best way to describe their flavor is that of a cross between an apple and a beet.
We know this because we grow them ourselves in the garden and we like their taste. It is not unusual to have a customer request that we send them some. And why not – they are so tiny, so easy to harvest and grow, and have a gorgeous array of colors to offer. So the next question we get asked often is “What can I do with Micro beets?” And the answer is that you can do anything with beets – from grating them into a salt mix for a delicious winter dish, to washing and drying in the sunlight to make a wonderful salad.
So, let’s talk about how to grow them properly. We’ve talked about the wonderful variety of colors available, and how much they will surprise you once you see them in the garden. Now, let’s talk about how to harvest them. Like most beets, Microbeets are native to Europe, though they have now spread out of that area into much of North America and even into South America. To keep your Micro Beet plants thriving and looking their best, try to harvest them when they are just starting to sprout leaves – at about a week’s time.
The reason for this timing is that the developing heart diseases, cancer, and other conditions often appear only as a symptom or complication of one condition or another. For example, those developing heart diseases can sometimes be a symptom of high blood pressure or diabetes. Those developing intestinal cancer can be a symptom of poor nutrition or a sign of an untreated fungal infection. So, by harvesting at the right time, microgreens can provide their vital nutrients and prevent serious disease from developing.
Harvesting your micro greens while they’re still relatively small should make a big difference. Since the tiny beets only begin to grow about two weeks after planting, the best time to plant them is summer. In addition to helping your plants grow quickly, you’ll also find that planting them in summer olive oil makes them taste much better than regular beets. (You may also find that they taste a bit stronger.)
If you want to plant your micro greens in summer olive oil, the easiest way is to put them into a small plastic basket. Add about two inches of ground errata to the basket. Keep in mind that you should only use a small amount of errata, so that it does not harden when it is cold outside. Place the basket in a sunny window for the best growing conditions. Do not let the basket or any of the other micro greens dry out. Place the basket in a shady place during the cooler months to keep the soil moist.
Because it is a seedling, the tiny plants will need a lot of extra attention, especially in the first months. You should water your beets regularly, but you should not over-water them. The soil should always receive an extra dose of fertilizer, and you should lightly water the tops of the plants. You should monitor the tops to make sure they are not getting too much water. You should check them often in the first month, and in some cases every week.
Microbeets are considered a nuisance weed by many gardeners. You should try to trim the bunch if you find them growing on your plants. If you cannot trim them, you should use a sharp knife to remove about half the grass. Because they are so small, this should not be a difficult task.