Beetroot likes to grow in a sunny position. Dig over your bed in autumn or early winter to a medium tilth and incorporate well rotted compost. If the soil is acidic add to the soil lime at the manufacturers' recommended rate. During the spring rake the bed to a fine tilth and incorporate a general purpose fertiliser such as growmore into the bed 2-3 weeks prior to sowing.

You can start sowing beetroot in mid April, earlier in March if you give your seeds the protection of a cloche or frame. To extend the season of your crop sow successively in monthly intervals until July. Sow two seeds together directly into the bed in drills 5 cm deep and leave a gap of 10 cm between seeds, spacing 30 cm between rows. Cover with soil and water gently.

Thin the seedlings when they are 2-3 cm high to leave a single plant in each position. Do not attempt the replant the discarded seedlings as they will not be successful. Birds can be problematic and uproot your crop at this stage so protection may be required.

Keep the soil free of competing weeds. Dry spells will lead to woodiness and low yield so ensure you water fortnightly during dry spells and add a mulch to conserve moisture. Thin the plants further when the beetroot have reached golf ball size by removing alternate plants. Don’t discard these plants as they can be used for cooking.

Globe beetroot varieties will be ready to harvest 11 weeks after sowing and long rooted varieties are ready after 16 weeks.  Pull globe varieties of beetroot when they are no larger than cricket balls. Long rooted verities should be lifted out with a fork carefully to avoid damage to the roots. Do not cut the leaves with a knife as this will result in bleeding, but twist off the foliage leaving 4 cm crown of stalks. Harvest beetroot for storage during October, placing them in a shed in a box between layers of dry peat.

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