But that dinner a few years ago consisted of some beets sent to us by my friend Jeff in Michigan, and were prepared by he and another visiting friend, Patrina (from Australia!), who were both staying with us while attending our annual Tomatopalooza event. Jeff's beets were roasted alongside potatoes and onions, seasoned by olive oil, salt, and pepper. It was a simple but delicious preparation that encouraged me to try to grow them myself.
So last year I dug up the two back rows of the garden and dedicated them to lettuce, beets and radishes - with only the lettuce from transplants. Though not a total failure, the beets germinated spottily, required thinning to give them sufficient room (beet "seeds" are more like clusters of seeds, producing clusters of plants in most cases!). Then the weeds got into the act, and, despite a few decent sized (and yes, delicious!) beets, I was not impressed.
So, being someone who actually enjoys transplanting thickly planted cells of seeds to individual pots, I decided to experiment with starting beets the same way that I do tomatoes, peppers, lettuce - everything, really - and see what happened. I planted 10-15 of those large, lumpy "seeds" per small cell in plug flats, waited for them to germinate, and then, when large enough, popped out the cells and put a small seedling each into the cells of my plug flats. One fringe benefit was immediate - the iffy-germinating Burpee Golden Beet (at least when direct seeded outside) thrived and actually germinated far better when started indoors.
So, armed with my nice healthy beet transplants, I prepared the back two rows of my garden, and amidst radishes, lettuce and greens, transplanted my nice healthy beet seedlings 3 inches apart. They took like champions, growing nice and sturdy, and this method made weeding much easier. Over the last few weeks, we've harvested a bounty crop of smooth, succulent beets - and are making good use of a new favorite, the beet greens. Below are a few pictures of our results.