Soil which has been freshly manured is not suited to this vegetable, and an endeavour must be made to sow the seeds in a fine soil that has been thoroughly cultivated during the previous season. Coarse soil and fresh manure induce coarseness, fanging, and forking. Sowings should be carried out late in April and in May ; drills two inches in depth and a foot apart should be drawn and in these the seed should be dropped in clusters of three or four at intervals of nine inches. Subsequently the seedlings should be thinned out to single plants,, selecting the weaker ones for retention and the stronger for removal, since these latter often develop into coarse plants.
The seed beds must be protected from the ravages of the birds, who delight to pull out the seedlings for the sake of the succulent seed leaves. It is interesting to note that the green-leaved Beet are not so frequently attacked as those having coloured foliage. The soil between the rows and the plants must be thoroughly and continually hoed. The value of a fine tilth around growing root crops is often underrated ; in the first place it conserves moisture, in the second place it allows growth to proceed unhindered, and in the third place weeds are removed before they are large enough to enter into serious competition with the crop.
In October the roots should be lifted ; this operation calls for great care, for if the skin is broken or bruised the root loses a great amount of those sugary juices that give the plant its colour and flavour. This is known as " bleeding." The fork should be inserted in the ground near the root and driven well below it ; gently press t,he handle of the fork downwards and remove the plant. On account of the removal of soil in lifting the first root in the row, it is easier to lift the remaining roots. After lifting remove the leaves by twisting off the leaf stems at least three inches above the crown ; arrange the roots neatly in a pit dug in the garden and lined with sand, or in layers alternated with sand in a cellar or outhouse. The roots are withdrawn from the store as they are required for use. If they remain in the ground till the arrival of the frosts the roots will be destroyed.
Fig. 30. root storage.
The roots are arranged as shown and completely surrounded with sand.
The Best Varieties :-Dell's Crimson, Cheltenham Green-top.