Crop Spot: Beets

Beets deserve the spotlight for their funky exterior and sweet flavor alone, but add to that their superfood level nutrition, versatility in the kitchen and hearty growing characteristics and it’s easy to see that they’re a truly incredible vegetable. Past enjoying them in the kitchen, you can also use for dying fabrics and for Valentine’s day card making. 

In the Garden:

Beets can be grown all season long because they’re tolerant to most growing temperatures in Michigan. They require about 7-10 hours of sunlight daily, but too much heat can stress them out. Companion planting with something like beans or kohlrabi is a great way to help mitigate this. Like most root vegetables, beets are hearty so they can grow in a variety of soil types, however they’ll develop stronger and more uniformly in well-draining rich, loose soils. Be sure to water regularly to keep the bulb from cracking or getting too woody. 

In the Medicine Cabinet:

Beets really shine when it comes to nutritional benefits. Both the leaves and the root are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that may fight cell damage, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including: folate, manganese, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Plus, beets are naturally high in fiber and naturally occurring nitrates – compounds converted to nitric oxide which can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

In the Kitchen:

Beets are believed to have first grown along the coasts of the Mediterranean and were originally cultivated for their edible leaves! Today, they are favored for both the root and greens. People peel the vegetable in different ways but either way works; you can use a vegetable peeler and then cook after or boil them first and shock them in cold water to quickly remove the skin by hand. Beets are naturally sweet and make a fun, feel-good addition to sweets like this delicious chocolate cake