Friday, May 21, 2010

A nasty stain

Hi Peter
I have some more problems in my vegie garden my beetroot is all leaves there is nothing growing or developing below the ground.
I have sooty mould on my bean leaves & little white insects as well, it is also starting to effect our basil.
I hope you can help
My mum has a passion for Beetroot.  She actively tried to pass it on but only partially successfully.  I like Beetroot but I don't get that excited.  As usual though, home grown or at least home prepared is extra special.  Tinned beetroot is perfectly flavoursome but Beetroot is such a fantastic raw material for pickling, flavouring and cooking it is really worth having a go. Besides that, Beetroot is generally pest free and easy to grow.

These are beetroot we harvested this week from the Magic Square Display Garden we prepared for the flower and garden show. No additional fertilizer added, that's the value of a large volume of potting media for containerized vegies.

So what could prevent Maureen's Beetroot from developing a nice fat root? Generally the explanation is too much nitrogen encourages leaf development at the expense of root growth.  Of course this is one of my favourite topics, ensure your plants get abalanced diet.  Many commercial preparations over emphasize nitrogen because it makes plants look shiny and healthy easily but really it is junk food.  Chicken manure and chook pellets are also heavily weighted towards a quick shot of nitrogen.

My other mantra is "prepare soil thoroughly and if you are growing in containers use a premium potting mix".  The structure of the growing medium (soil or potting mix) is really important when growing root  crops such as beetroot because the root needs to expand and grow into the medium.  Poorly drained, soggy soil and hard compacted old dirt just don't cut it with root vegies.

At Scotsburn we have traditionally sold Beetroot seedlings year round in Melbourne although the text books generally recommend against sowing through the winter.  Experience says they will plant out quite happily, they just grow more slowly adding a few weeks to the standard 10-11.  There is an argument for direct seeding all root vegies as it prevents root damage during transplanting, of course from my perspective starting with seedlings takes away the problems of germinating seed.  Careful transplanting of seedlings also removes the need to thin out direct seeded plantings that have been over sown.  We sow Beetroot 'seed pods' directly into punnets and pots so each of these clusters can be thinned as you plant them.

OK so a little bigger than my recommendation, but they grew faster than we expected.  These were planted from advanced Funky Fresh Kitchen pots a couple of weeks prior to the Flower Show so that's about 9 weeks in the beds. Where did these beetroot go you ask?  So did I.  I believe Debra schanffled them.

Don't be afraid to pick small sweet leaves for salad mixes this should encourage more growth and ensure that the shoulder of the bulbous root is covered with soil as it matures to protect it from cracking when exposed to the weather.  And please pick your Beetroot before the bulbs reach cricket ball size.... taste sweet!

By the way.  Basil season is ending, getting too cold for Basil now.  Little white insects?  White fly.  White fly love beans and tomatoes.  They are sucking insects so treat them the same way as Aphids.  White fly doesn't generally create a lot of damage itself but it can carry viral diseases.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Meet Garden Bloggers