Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Renee's Garden Seed Trials - Beets

Two of the five varieties of beets that I grew this year were from Renee's Garden Seeds.

Golden Beet from Renee's Seeds
I'm really happy to  have found an excellent strain of golden beets from Renee's Seeds. I've tried a few different varieties of golden beets over the last few years, Golden Grex were disappointing because they only have golden skin and their flesh turned out to be white and rather coarse. Burpee's Golden beets just didn't perform very well for me although they were an OK beet. The Golden beets from Renee's were just what I've been searching for. They have been very good producers, they size up fairly quickly and produce mostly well shaped roots with a good texture and excellent mild flavor. The greens are also very good when I can keep the aphids off of them.

The other beet variety that I grew from Renee's Seeds was Baby Ball which you can see on the right in the photo below.

Golden and Baby Ball Beets
Baby Ball beets seem to grow a little more slowly than the Golden beets, although that seems to be more about leaf size than root size. The beets shown here were sown and transplanted at the same time. You can see that the root sizes are comparable, but the golden beets are leafier. 

This is the patch of beets that I harvested those beets from, photographed on September 20. The Baby Ball Beets are in front on the left, the Golden beets in front on the right, and there are Flat Egyptian and Chioggia beets in the rear. I harvested that bunch on November 5. The first harvest of Golden and Baby Ball Beets was on October 17, but the very first harvest from that patch was a bunch of Chioggias on September 12. Chioggia beets are the quickest to grow to harvestable size and also put a lot of energy into their leaves. I sowed the seeds for all those beets on July 25 in paper pots and planted them out a few weeks after sowing.

This is the same patch on October 16 after a few harvests.

I sowed a second flat of beets on September 4 and this is how those Baby Ball and Golden beets looked this morning. The short days and cold weather have really slowed this bunch down of late, but there are a number of beets in the patch that are large enough to harvest. Fortunately, since we've been eating out a lot lately, the cold weather also means that the beets keep very well in the garden.

On October 21 I sowed an additional flat of Golden beets in paper pots and planted them out under some (rodent) protective row cover. The fabric is very light weight and not designed for frost protection, but it does seem to help keep the plants a little warmer, especially on cold but sunny days. I keep the top open a bit to allow a bit more light in.

Those little babies are looking good, although they are growing slowly, but that's because of the short days and cold nights. It will be interesting to see how prone these are to bolting as the winter progresses, it's not unusual to get spells of warm weather here in January and February. Last January we had an unusually long stretch of days with highs in the 70's which pushed a lot of the brassicas to bolt. I'll see what's in store for the garden this year, stay tuned...

So, what do I do with all those beets? Salads mostly, like Warm Beet and Apple Salad or Beet Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese. Or I simply add slices or chunks of roasted beets to a mixed green salad. I roast the unpeeled beet roots in a foil covered roasting pan at 400ºF for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on size, and then run the hot beets under cold water to make it easy to rub off the skins, then they are ready to eat. I used my last bunch of beets in a pasta dish that was really tasty. I'll be writing up that recipe and will post it in my Kitchen Notebook shortly.

Beet Happy!


  1. Great post. I love Renee's Garden Seeds and have always have had good luck with them. I will be trying the beets this next season.

  2. looking forward to the recipe
    I have recently planted some seeds for the first time.

  3. I grew a nice variety of golden beets this year too - Touchstone - which looks much the same as your golden beet variety (size, leaf habit, etc). We have another month of our yet to be coldest weather (January is always a coldest month) and I am living dangerously by planting out some lettuce and dwarf pac choi starts in the unheated greenhouse. I am aching for some new garden harvests though as I am down to mostly meager amounts of swiss chard, infrequent kale harvests, parsnips, beets, and green onions.

  4. You're making me hungry!!! We've had beets going all winter in Oakland. We're just harvesting the leaves, which have been great. No leaf miners!

  5. Ah if only Renee's Seeds were available in Toronto.By the way, how long to harvest the golden beets?

  6. I was getting ready to plant some fall beets and looking for info on Renee's Golden. Now I am really looking forward to trying them! I have some Chioggia and Bulls Blood seed also for my own trials. Thanks for sharing your results!


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