Common Name: Beets, Chard, Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced ~ will cross-pollinate with different varieties of beets/chard. Wind pollinated. Separate by ½ mile or grow one family member at a time to ensure purity.
Planting: Direct sow seeds Oct - Feb about 2" apart and ½" deep in rows 20-24" apart. Seeds germinate in 5-10 days. Thin to 4-6" apart. Can be planted at 2 wk intervals for continuous harvests. Beets like full sun, and they are fairly frost tolerant if well mulched. All parts of the beet plant are edible. No major pests.
Harvesting: To harvest greens for salads while keeping the roots growing, cut no more than ¼ of the leaves from one plant. Pull beets by around 60 days to prevent them from becoming woody and tough (cold winters and frost may slow growth a bit).
Seed Saving: Biennial when planted in the Spring. If grown in the Fall and left in the ground over winter, beets will seed in spring. Harvest seed heads when dry. After most of the flowers have turned brown, cut stalks at the soil line, keeping seed heads bagged as they shatter. Move to cool, dry place for 2-3 weeks.
Sources: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth (2002), Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening by Jacqueline A. Soule (2014), International Seed Saving Institute, seedsave.org, Seed Savers Exchange: www.seedsavers.org
Books and ebooks:
Recipe: Shredded Root-Vegetable Linguine
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil,
4 cups peeled and shredded mixed
root vegetables (beets, carrots, celery root, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips)
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vegetable/chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
salt and ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
4 tbls butter, diced
Begin heating a large pot of salted water to a boil for the linguine. Shredded root vegetables cook very quickly, so the sauce for this pasta is made in the time it takes to boil the water. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the root vegetables, leek, and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables are limp, about 8 min. Add the broth and wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 5 min. Reduce heat to warm and season with salt / pepper.
Cook the linguine until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, and then drain. Toss the linguine with the butter until well coated and transfer to a serving dish. Add the vegetable mixture and toss to combine, adding some of the reserved cooking water if the mixture appears dry.
Source: Recipes from the Root Cellar: 250 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables (2010) by Andrea Chesma