At the moment, there are 140 varieties of table beet in the State Register of Breeding Achievements of the Russian Federation (cm. Table beets), and this is not surprising, because they began to grow in Russia in the 10th century. It is interesting that both ordinary peasants and noble people of that time loved this vegetable equally. Served into the hands of the widespread distribution of beets, its unpretentiousness, the ability to grow on most types of soil and undemanding to the obligatory regular watering, in addition, the vegetable is well stored. However, in order to preserve the taste and appearance of the root crop as long as possible, you need to know when and how to properly harvest the beetroot and what to do with it after harvesting.
When is it?
It is clear that you need to harvest the beets in autumn (usually in September or early October, and always before frost). But for a more accurate determination of the correct harvesting date for the root crop, you need to know which variety you have planted. Usually, the ripening dates are indicated on the seed package, the difference between early and late varieties can be up to three months.
We advise you not to be in a hurry with harvesting, scientists have found that most of the nutrients accumulate in the root crop precisely in the autumn. Therefore, if the weather is warm and dry, then keep the roots in the garden, let them pick up more vitamins, sugars and other useful substances. In the same case, if autumn can be called cold and wet, it makes no sense to keep it in the garden for a long time - as soon as it ripens, it can be safely removed, processed and stored, otherwise being in the cold and in damp earth can only negatively affect storage of beets in the future.
How to understand when it is ripe?
Usually, the ripening dates are shown not only on the numbers on the package with seeds, but also on the leaves of the plant itself. If the term for the biology of a given variety has approached and at the same time (a little earlier or a little later) its upper part began to die off, it means that the root crop is ripe. Most often, they turn yellow, wither and may even begin to dry out those leaves that are located at the base of the root crop. Sometimes it does not come to wilting, the bases of the leaves are simply noticeably thinner, which means that the beets are ripe. And, of course, you can visually assess the size of the root crop, if it matches the stated, then it's definitely time to harvest.
Usually, root crops are harvested slowly, trying not to damage their surface, but if frosts are expected, then you need to hurry up with harvesting. Beet varieties of late ripening periods are especially at risk of being frozen. If a root crop falls under frosts, especially strong ones, then it can be poorly stored, deteriorate immediately or lie much less than the prescribed period.
Getting started cleaning
If you are planning to harvest the beets, then try to choose such a period so that there is no rain a couple of days before and during harvesting, the roots are dry, and they do not have to be specially dried. It is advisable to choose a warm, sunny day, because moisture, even in a small amount, remaining on the roots, can later cause the appearance of rot.
When harvesting, we do not recommend using a shovel or a pitchfork, usually the roots are very well removed from the soil by hand, by the tops. This method of harvesting minimizes damage to the surface of root crops. Only if the soil is excessively dense, and the tops just come off, and the root crop remains in the soil, we advise you to use a shovel and first dig a trench along the row, and then, as it were, dumping the root crops into a trench, pick them out of the soil with your hands.
In no case, after digging, do not throw root crops to the ground from a height of more than 20 cm, do not tap the soil from them, holding the tops or tips of root crops, this can cause fatal damage, and root crops will not be stored.
After removing from the soil, the roots must be freed from the tops by cutting them with a sharp pruner, scissors or a knife. The leaf blades are usually cut off completely, but it is quite acceptable to leave about a centimeter from the tops, but no more. This technique inhibits the germination of the root crop if it is stored in warmer conditions than it should be. Tops cannot be left too long, it can begin to rot, and the rot will spread to the root crop.
After the roots have been removed from the tops, it is necessary to dry them slightly, you can directly on the burlap, on the site. It is necessary to ensure that the upper part of the root crop dries up, sometimes a couple of hours are enough for this, and on some days, when it is sunny but cool, it takes twice as long.
If it is impossible to dry the root crops on the street, for example, when the weather deteriorates sharply, then the beets can be brought into a warm and bright room and laid out on paper, or on the same burlap, but under a canopy. Indoors, beets can dry out only if there is good ventilation.
Further, when the roots dry out, they will need to be carefully inspected and if you notice those that have a sign of rot, damage to the skin, deep scratches and wounds, then it is better not to put them in storage, but put them into processing or keep them in sight, and in case of something that has begun use decay immediately after removing the decaying parts.
In the process of these actions, the root crops should lose the soil that sometimes covers them, the remaining soil can be removed with a soft glove or rag, at the same time removing the lateral roots, also cutting off the main one to 4-6 cm.You cannot wash the beets - it will be poorly stored.
So how to store beets
If the harvest you have received does not have any damage, then the beets can be stored for seven or even eight months, almost until the new harvest. Gardeners note that root crops are best stored with a diameter of about 11-12 cm.
As for storage methods, there are a lot of them. Considering that beets go well with potatoes, they can be stored in any cellar or basement where potatoes are already stored. The temperature suitable for storage should be low above zero (up to + 4 ° C), and the humidity should be about 90-95%. Previously, in the room, you need to fill up all the cracks with plaster mixed with broken bottle glass, and whitewash the walls with lime. All shelves and racks, as well as boxes and piles, need to be replaced with new ones.
Usually, root vegetables are stored in wooden boxes, similar to apple boxes. There they are sprinkled with sawdust or river sand in layers. At the same time, sawdust or river sand should be dry, they will absorb all excess moisture.
You can also use plastic bags for storage, they must be tight. The beets are placed in them and placed on the cement floor of a basement, subfloor or garage, tying but not tightly so that the air can circulate freely. They say that the bag is the best option for storing table beets.
Also, baskets are suitable for this.
Sometimes beets are simply laid out on the shelves of the basement or cellar and they try to check the safety of the products more often.
If there are no containers, then simple stacks are often made, which are placed directly on the basement floor, while the roots must be laid inside the stack.
Beetroot mixed with potatoes is well kept - for this, a pile is created and two crops are mixed in it.
If the number of root crops is small or there are damaged ones, then you can store them in a regular household refrigerator and monitor the condition of the root crops. If it starts to deteriorate, then use it immediately.
It is perfectly acceptable to store beets frozen, for this they need to be cut into slices, placed in a container and shoved into the freezer. Of course, before slicing and freezing, the fruits should be washed as well as possible and dried from excess moisture.Few people know, but even boiled beets can be frozen.