Beets are preferably grown as a kind of "side benefit" - which means that no separate cultivation space is set aside for them, but that they are grown put in between other crops, where there is not much else that can thrive. It has been shown to work quite well, for example, when the beets are put in the middle rows, where corn or tall peas are later to be planted - or put in the middle of a bed in April where they will grow under bar beans which are planted in late May. The growth of the preferred elongated varieties may take place somewhat more slowly in such a shady existence, but it is not so urgent to eat pickled beets in the summer months either.
We will still have a slightly early harvest, however, where a smaller portion of a round variety is grown that can better withstand the low temperatures of spring. Last year I tried to plant them under plastic in April, where broccolini was planted in the main rows in May. It did not work so well: at first it was as if the larger beetroot leaves were holding down the small broccoli plants, and later the balance of power was almost reversed - the beets were longer than expected to reach a respectable size.
This year, therefore, a new combination must be tried: the beets are sown in late February in the plug box and are now planted out between the overwintering bulbs. The onion tops are now starting to grow, and are hardly bothered by the bette bees - which, conversely, are not particularly suppressed by the bulbs either. The bulbs are harvested from the beginning of June, the beets probably not that long after - and since after the bulbs are to be planted pole beans on both sides of the bed, the beets will also only be able to grow further if they need it.
Written by Peter Norris, on 5.4.2018