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Illustration Rote Bete Chioggia

Beetroot "Chioggia"

Lisa Lisa
30/06/2022 · 8 minutes reading time

Let's get these June plants fat and colourful, shall we?

Here’s what’s ahead:

Quick-Start Guide

Do you prefer to keep your garden a device-free zone? We get that. We’ve drawn up a cheat sheet with the most important information about sowing your thyme, so you can take it with you into the garden. Just print out our quick start guide:

Getting Started

Important information at a glance:

  • Sowing depth: 3-4 cm, dark germinators

  • Germination temperature: 8-20 °C

  • Germination time: 7-10 days

  • Row spacing: 20 cm

  • Plant spacing: 10 cm

  • Root depth: 30 cm

  • Sow/harvest indoors: March–April / June–September

  • Sow/harvest outdoors: April–July / July–November

  • Type: moderate-feeder

  • Plant family: foxtail family

  • Location: sunny to semi-shady

  • Soil: humic, moist

This ancient Italian beetroot variety is named after the port town of Chioggia, located near Venice. This town is long known for growing vegetables, and after you have grown this bright, colourful beauty, you will understand why they are so proud of it. This beet’s red and white ringed colour distinguishes it from other varieties of the vitamin-rich tuber. However, the unusual colouring disappears when cooked. Because of this, we like to prepare the "Chioggia" variety raw as a carpaccio (see "Enjoy").

Sowing

Sow outdoors from the end of April to July. You can also jump-start this beetroot a bit early by planting the seeds indoors from March. This allows you to place the pre-cultured plants at the right distance from each other in the bed.

Here’s what you need:

  • Seed pots

  • Potting soil

  • Shower Ball or watering device

  • Outdoor: compost

For pre-culture sowing indoors: If you want to grow your beetroot indoors, fill pots or seed trays with slightly moistened soil. Then use your finger to poke a hole in the soil in each pot (several holes 2 cm apart in the case of growing trays). These holes should be about 3-4 cm deep. Now put a piece of seed paper with a single seed in each hole. Close up the holes, water, and place the containers on a bright windowsill or under a plant lamp.

To increase germination and shorten germination time, you can stretch transparent foil or a pane of glass over your containers. You are creating a much more humid environment if you do this, so just be sure to lift the covering and air your seeds out for a few minutes every day to prevent mould. After germination, the cover must be removed.

For direct sowing outdoors: Starting in April, you can simply sow beetroot directly into your bed or in large pots (depth at least 30 cm, soil: peat-free vegetable soil). On sandy soils, you will want to apply some compost 2 weeks before sowing so that the seeds retain moisture and nutrients better. Make grooves every 20 cm, which should be about 3-4 cm deep. Now place 2 seeds every 10 cm in the soil, close the grooves and water everything well.

Separating and Transplanting

Transplanting indoors: Have the first real beetroot leaves formed already? Great! Now it's time to move them individually into larger pots with vegetable soil, or directly into your bed, which you can do starting at the end of May. Lift the seedlings out of the old pots with a pricking stick and carefully transplant them. Be careful not to set them too deep. The vegetation point from which new leaves grow must not be covered. After you have closed the holes again, water everything well again.

Separating (direct sowing bed or pot): When direct sowing beetroot, it often happens that seedlings sprout too close together, as several seedlings can grow from one seed. If this happens, you just have to separate them to 10 cm as soon as the first proper leaves have formed. To do this, use a pricking stick to lift the plants that are too close together out of the ground. At their final destination, you then place them in prepared planting holes. As with standard transplanting of beetroot seedlings, be sure not to plant too deep, and water them well. If you run out of space, or if you simply don't want to replant the thinned seedlings, you can also harvest the in-between plants early and add the young leaves to a salad.

Location

In order to form a nice, large tuber, beetroot needs nutrient-rich soil that is good at retaining moisture. Sandy soils should be treated with compost in the spring. It is best to use vegetable soil for growing in pots.

Although beetroot is an earthy vegetable, it loves bright, sunny spots. Because of this, it is important to always keep the soil moist, especially in summer.

Bed Neighbours:

Good neighbours: dill, fennel, cucumber, cabbage, cilantro, garlic, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, onion

Bad neighbours: carrot, potato, leek, corn, chard, spinach

Care for Your Beetroot

  • Maintain a rotation of 4 years

  • Treat your bed with compost

  • Fertilisation: In summer with nettle manure or organic fertiliser

  • Mulch, but do not cover tubers

  • Water regularly

Diseases and pests

Root voles: They like to tamper with your beetroots, especially in the fall. If mice are a problem in your garden, aside from setting up traps, the only thing that usually helps is a trellis that you place under and around your bed. Or just hope for natural predators such as foxes or birds of prey to keep watch over your garden.

Snails: Collect them regularly, or place mechanical protection (e.g. snail fence) around the bed

Beet fly: Attach a close-meshed crop protection net shortly after sowing.

You can usually recognise fungal, bacterial or viral infections such as leaf spot or downy mildew by the changes on the plant’s leaves, e.g. spots that are not due to deficiency symptoms or the natural vegetation cycle of the plant. Affected plants should be removed immediately and disposed of with household waste. For the next 4 years, no representatives of the same plant family (in the case of beetroot, e.g. chard or spinach) may be grown on the same bed.

Harvest and Storage

Beets are frost-resistant down to -3°C, so you can harvest them all winter long in mild areas. A thick layer of mulch protects against light frost. The tubers taste best when fresh, so harvesting as needed will optimise the flavour of your home-grown veg. If you want to store them, or if you have to harvest them due to severe frost, carefully twist off the leaves and place them in a tub of sand in the cold basement. Do not remove the soil that clings to it, as this helps to protect and preserve your beetroot.

You can also cut your beetroot into pieces and freeze it, or put it in sweet and sour.

Young leaves can also be used in the kitchen, especially if you don't want to replant when thinning them out in your bed.

Enjoy

The delicate leaves look particularly pretty in summery salads, with pomegranate seeds, for example.

In winter, beetroot brings a sweet freshness to all sorts of stews. A beetroot curry with coconut milk will also stimulate your taste buds in a very unique way. Live your best life, eh?

Beetroot also contains various vitamins, as well as iron and folic acid. The former are best preserved if you don't cook beetroot. And if you’re feeling like trying something new, we recommend serving your beetroot as a carpaccio. This is how you can perfectly showcase the ringed colouring of the Chioggia variety:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-2 beetroot bulbs

  • 100 g feta (optional)

  • 20 g walnut kernels

  • 100 g rocket or lamb's lettuce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • 1 tsp honey or agave syrup

  • 1 tsp mustard

  • Salt and pepper

And here’s what to do:

  1. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard into a dressing and season with salt and pepper

  2. Peel the beetroot and cut very thinly. If you don't have a vegetable slicer, or if you find it difficult to cut the raw tuber, you can cook it beforehand to soften it. Just remember that, as we mentioned before, you’ll lose that beautiful Chioggia colouring if you cook it.

  3. Arrange the slices on a large plate in a rosette pattern and crumble the feta on top. As a vegan alternative, you can leave out the feta, or find a vegan alternative.

  4. Wash the rocket or lamb's lettuce, pat it dry, and spread on the plate.

  5. Roughly chop the walnut kernels, lightly toast in a pan with oil and sprinkle on the salad as a topping.

  6. Finally, pour the dressing over the carpaccio.

And voilà! You’ve gone from a seed in a calendar to a beautiful, delicious, home-grown and homemade lunch!

What do you think about this plant? What have been your successes or challenges in sowing and growing the seeds? And how do you most love to eat beetroot? Let us know in the comments below. And as always: Have fun and happy gardening!