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A useful trick with beetroot seeds is to soak them for an hour before planing them.

Plant the seeds about four inches apart in a straight row (the standard advice is to sow 2 or 3 seeds in each spot).  Being in a row helps you spot the seedlings as they emerge and makes it easier to hoe between the rows.  Rows can be around 12 inches apart.

The seedlings are green with red veins in the leaves which makes them easy to recognise.  Weed all round them as soon as they emerge.  If you've got two or more seedlings together (which can happen as beetroot 'seeds' are actually a cluster of two or three and you may be sowing more than one per spot as well) then pull the spares out to give the other one enough room to grow.

Beetroot like a well-drained, fertile soil which has NOT been manured recently.

They grow best with some fertiliser.  I used compost last year and got a reasonable crop. This year, I'll be trying compost and dilute urine.

In hot weather, water 2 gallons (4 litres) per square yard/metre.  Don't overdo it.

If you get trouble with sparrows going for your seedlings (I don't, but some people do), then use a couple of pegs and stretch black cotton between them.

As the plants get bigger, take care not to touch the bulbs when weeding/hoeing.  They'll bleed if cut.

When they reach a size suitable for eating (around August if you plant this time of year), bake/roast/grate into veggie pancakes/etc and enjoy the wonderful taste of fresh beetroot!

Different varieties of seeds can be planted/cropped at different times of year, so you can get a long season of beetroot.

Defintiely one of my favourite veg.

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Judith Proctor

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