Better beetroots – how to thin beetroot seedlings

Shamefully puny beetroots

Last week I thought that I’d be enormously smug and plan a lovely afternoon of cooking with my toddler son. He’s always so happy when he’s perched on his tiny stepladder with his little apron on, cracking eggs or stirring things and tasting everything within reach. What could complete this middle class John Lewis advert of an afternoon? Why, to have him pull up one of our enormous beetroots from one of our raised beds and to cook beetroot chocolate brownies of course! So when we went to pull up the beetroots that were busy waving their ginormous leaves in the wind, it was a bit of a shock to find that they were tiny puny undeveloped roots! It turns out that the plugs I’d sown had multiple beetroots in each of them so none of them had space to grow. So we bought (to my shame) some backup beetroots to stick into the brownies and whilst they were cooking I went out to try to thin the beetroots. 

The beetroot bed, looking deceptively full of fat roots. It isn’t!

My initial attempts to pull up the unwanted puny beetroots simply resulted in the whole plug coming out so a quick google suggested that instead I could simply cut the leaves of the ones I didn’t want right back to the level of the earth. So that’s what I did. The beetroot bed looks a lot thinner now, but hopefully we’ll end up with some actual beets rather than a bed full of tiny weedy looking roots. As per usual the thinning left me feeling pretty guilty, but I think that long term it’ll be worth it. 


One of the beetroots that survived the thinning

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

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