Some veggies like company
When it comes to planting vegetable seeds, the instructions on the seed packets always tell one exactly how far apart each seed must be as well as the correct depth and care to be taken to make sure you plant one seed at a time.
Well, if it is the first time you are starting your own seedlings, then you won't go far wrong by applying this advice.
However, over the years, I have found that there is an exception to the rule when it comes to planting beetroot seeds.
The beetroot seeds are quite large and irregular in shape and one seed can often produce more than one seedling.
I always put two or three seeds into the hole in the soil - this is just incase the odd seed does not germinate - which can happen.
Once planted, the soil must be kept moist - a well drained fertile soil is ideal for beetroot as well as a sunny position.
After a couple of days, the seeds will start to germinate and push through the surface of the soil - and you must be on the look out for small birds that would love to eat these tiny seedlings - a bit of netting over the seedlings will stop your plants from being eaten.
As the seedlings develop, you will be able to see how many have pushed through in each hole - sometimes three or four and even six may appear.
This is then the time to thin them out - and here lies the secret of good crops - do not separate them into singles - just carefully lift a clump of three or four out of the soil without disturbing the roots and replant in the soil and leave a gap of about fifteen cm. between each clump.
For some reason, beetroots like to be together and grow well when done this way.
When it comes time to harvest, simply twist off the bigger ones, leaving the others to develop further.
Beetroots are full of nutrients and the leaves can also be eaten - either cooked like spinach or eaten raw in a salad.
Never throw away the beetroot leaves as they can be cookked or eaten raw in salads.