Large red beets surprise gardener PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By BILL RYAN Sentinel Garden Editor   
Thursday, 30 July 2009 08:55

Bud Henschen and his wife, Martha, are established gardeners. They enjoy growing much of their own produce.
Though he has grown standard table beets in the garden for years, this year he noticed many of the stalks were larger than normal.
When he began harvesting the beets, to his surprise, he found some huge beets.
The largest he describes as the size of a muskmelon. He also pulled several which were approximately the size of softballs.
"I've had beets before and we've never had any that grew this big," Henschen said.
The largest weighed in at just under four pounds.
In addition to the monster beets, he says they still have many beets which are regular size.
What made the difference with these beets?
Henschen is not sure. He says the seeds were purchased at Mid-Wood Inc., and he purchased regular Detroit red beets.
"We planted them in April, and I'm not sure if it's because of the cooler weather or not," he said.
Because of the heavy soil at their Mitchell Road home in Bowling Green, he says this year he added hummus to the soil and he thinks that may have contributed to the significant size.
Most garden experts note it generally takes about 60 days for beets to grow large to the normal size of roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches. It is generally not recommended to grow much larger.

When Henschen measured his largest beet it measured six inches in length minus the leaves. It also was a whopping 16 inches in circumference at its largest point.
According to Illinois Extension Web site listing on beets, "Beets enlarge rapidly to 3 inches with adequate moisture and space. With most varieties, beets larger than 3 inches may become tough and fibrous.
Others have also indicated larger beets tend to grow a tough woody center.
While Henschen has not cut into his largest beet, he says the other large ones do not follow that rule.
"These beets taste good, they are not woody at all," he says. "They are very tasty."
He says some people suggest the beets may be sugar beets, but they are not.
Other items in his garden are growing about as expected this years. The family has already harvested and roasted the fresh corn. They also have picked the beans and lettuce and will son be getting their cucumbers and muskmelons.
"We're trying our hands at potatoes this year," Henschen stated. "We've always had a garden, sometimes the weeds get ahead of us but this year' we've been able to stay ahead of them."
He is not sure of what the record for the largest beet is, but vows, "That's got to be close to it."
Experts generally agree to avoid large beets which have a hairy taproot. All those tiny roots, or hairs, are an indication of age and toughness. Smaller beets will be sweeter and more tender.




Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2009 10:21