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What to do with your beets!
Last year I had the pleasure of being a part of a local CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture or some say community shared agriculture. I was a little overexcited about this opportunity and opted for the full share. Needless to say, I had a ridiculous amount of food each week. My weeks soon consisted of blanching for hours. Anyway, back to my story.

One week I received beets in my share. Now beets were something I always avoided at all costs during thanksgiving. Nevertheless, receiving the food meant I needed to cook and eat it. So I got out my handy dandy vegetable cookbook to find a good recipe for these beets.

Now I can’t say this is the best recipe ever for beets. However, it’s my go to whenever I have beets now. It’s pretty simple too. Most people like their beets roasted. I’m most people. Now some roast the beets whole whereas others (me) roast them already diced. I usually roast them for about 45 minutes at 375. Once they are out of the oven and cooled down, you make the dressing. Mine since I’m pretty limited on ingredients ends up being minced garlic, S&P, horseradish, and Dijon mustard. You can, however, get real fancy and add white wine vinegar and chives.

To some this may sound like a gross combination but trust me, it’s incredible! The earthy flavor of the beets still comes through the dressing. This year in our teaching garden, we grew Guardsmark beets, which were exceptionally tasty, and I highly recommend.

Here’s an actual recipe, if you don’t want to follow mine…
http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-beets-with-mustard-horseradish-dressing-74134

What to do with your beets!

Last year I had the pleasure of being a part of a local CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture or some say community shared agriculture. I was a little overexcited about this opportunity and opted for the full share. Needless to say, I had a ridiculous amount of food each week. My weeks soon consisted of blanching for hours. Anyway, back to my story.

One week I received beets in my share. Now beets were something I always avoided at all costs during thanksgiving. Nevertheless, receiving the food meant I needed to cook and eat it. So I got out my handy dandy vegetable cookbook to find a good recipe for these beets.

Now I can’t say this is the best recipe ever for beets. However, it’s my go to whenever I have beets now. It’s pretty simple too. Most people like their beets roasted. I’m most people. Now some roast the beets whole whereas others (me) roast them already diced. I usually roast them for about 45 minutes at 375. Once they are out of the oven and cooled down, you make the dressing. Mine since I’m pretty limited on ingredients ends up being minced garlic, S&P, horseradish, and Dijon mustard. You can, however, get real fancy and add white wine vinegar and chives.

To some this may sound like a gross combination but trust me, it’s incredible! The earthy flavor of the beets still comes through the dressing. This year in our teaching garden, we grew Guardsmark beets, which were exceptionally tasty, and I highly recommend.

Here’s an actual recipe, if you don’t want to follow mine…

http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-beets-with-mustard-horseradish-dressing-74134

The afternoon we planted

Yesterday afternoon Cara, Sarah, and I planted our little veggie seedlings in the teaching garden. We ended up with 10 rows of veggies altogether. Some we directly sowed and did not start from seeds. These tend to do better when direct sowed (ds).

 

From left to right we planted in rows

1)      carrots & radish (ds)

2)      mesculin, white chard, & arugula (all ds)

3)      kale & red chard (ds)

4)      cabbage

5)      broccoli

6)      cauliflower

7)      beets

8)      (sickly, sad looking) lettuce

9)      N/A

10)   Onions

11)   Cucumbers

Things we learned

·       Plant half as many seedlings of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumber. We had about half a flat of each of these leftover. We’re keeping some on reserve in case some of our seedlings don’t make it. Otherwise, we will be donating them to our staff garden near our kitchen on our property.

·        Trying to start onions from seed is extremely difficult. We had to scrap all of our “seedling onions.” The onions we planted are the ones that were rescued from our garden earlier this spring (which were planted last fall).

·        Egg cartons are great for starting seeds but you can’t keep them in the carton for very long. We lost of all our cute little squash plants because we didn’t bump them up to a bigger pot fast enough. We will be directly sowing the rest of our squash seedlings next week in hopes of having some squash plants (for Cara and Sarah to eat).

·        Starting lettuce from seed also did not seem to go very well. I couldn’t give up on them so I planted them in one of our open/unused rows. I also seem to have misplaced the other lettuce seeds  I thought we had so if these little guys don’t take, I will have to go buy some more.

The first flat joins the others

After many weeks spent in my apartment, the first flat of seeds I planted this year, has joined its mates at Life Adventure Center. These beets are in great condition (much better than the 2nd flat of beets I planted at LAC). They have joined the rest of the flats in our indoor greenhouse (aka our education building). They seem to be happy.

Seeds planted

Today I planted and capped all the flats with Espoma Organic Seed Start Premium Potting Mix. I planted one seed per space in the 72 count trays/flats (except for the carrots & a couple of others, they were just too dang small). Anyway, here is what was planted.

  • Beets (Chioggia Guardsmark Beet High Mowing Organic Seeds)
  • Broccoli (De Cicco Broccoli High Mowing Organic Seeds)
  • Cabbage (Copenhagen Market Botanical Interests)
  • Cauliflower (Chef’s Choice Blend Botanical Interests)
  • Cucumber (Green Finger Cucumber High Mowing Organic Seeds)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onions (Red Wing Onion High Mowing Organic Seeds)
  • Peas
  • Peppers (Cook’s Garden Hot Pepper Mixture & Burpee Sweet Pepper Carnival Hybrid Mix)
  • Spinach
  • Carrots (Danvers 126 Carrot High Mowing Organic Seeds)

Now some of these I purchased new. Others I found in a pile of seeds from previous years of gardening. They were what I like to call my gamble. I wanted to see if they would work and it may save me $1.78 in not buying seeds.

Frost Free?

According to my calculations, our spring frost-free date is scheduled to be April 13, 2012. I found a growing chart online. You can google it and find them in lots of places. Some are already filled out for the particular region you want to start your seeds.

Based on the charts and seed packets, I was able to figure out when I could set my seeds outside. It looks like most will be ready between March 27th and April 10th.

Most charts will have “weeks from sowing” and “safe to set out time (relative to frost-free date” already filled in. Now you will need a calculator and/or calendar to figure out the rest.

First find out your area’s frost free date. I looked ours up online (the most accurate place obviously). Others use Farmer’s Almanacs.

Let’s use Beets as an example here to illustrate…

Beets are safe to set out “2 weeks before” the frost-free date. So that would mean 2 weeks prior to April 13 (aka March 30). Great that helps you when you actually have plants ready to go in the ground. But if you’re starting from seedings, you need to do some more math!

Beets require 4-6 weeks from sowing. This means from your March 30th date, you need to go back 4-6 weeks. This is when you need to start your seeds indoors. Our beets should’ve been planted somewhere between February 17-March 2. Luckily, I planted them on 2/28!

You will need to figure out when to start your seeds indoors for each type of seed you want to start. I ended up planting all of mine on the 28th due to scheduling errors.

 

One flat isn’t enough!

Over the weekend I had become a caretaker to a flat of beets. I was so excited that I couldn’t just stop at one flat. This needed to be expanded. If I had this much fun with 1 flat, just imagine the fun with 12 flats!!!

Well, I went back to the office and started planning out how the teaching garden would run this year. I needed to start seeds soon if I wanted to get them in the garden by spring/summer. I went back to Wilson Nurseries and stocked up on all the gardening supplies I needed. Gardening flats, trays, pro-mix, capping mix, and of course the seeds.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. 1 flat is great for someone with as little gardening experience as me. 12 might be pushing it.

Nurturing my first flat

After the workshop, they sent us home with our new flat full of soil mix, seeds, and hope that they’d actually sprout someday. They advised us to keep the flat covered until germination takes place. A good place to keep seeds you are attempting to start on your own happens to be on top of your refrigerator. The warmth of the refrigerator helps give your little seeds an extra kick.

So the top of my refrigerator soon became a mini greenhouse for my beets. It took about a week for the beets to start to sprout. During this time I moved my beets to the window for a chance at some sun. During the day while they were in the sun, I took the plastic covering off of the flat. When they returned to the refrigerator at night, the cover went back on to keep them warmer.

I diligently took care of my beets in hope of one day seeing them like this on my plate… Here’s hoping!

The Actual Workshop

So the actual workshop took place at Wilson Nurseries in Frankfort. I seemed to be the only person who wasn’t a regular at these workshops. However, I soon realized that we were all in the same gardening boat. We were struggling and needed help. And that’s obviously why we signed up in the first place.

We were guided through the necessary steps to start our seeds. The seed packet I selected just happened to be Organic Guardsmark Chioggia Beets.

I was a member of a CSA last year where I was introduced to the world of beets. I fell in love with them and therefore needed to start my gardening adventure with beets.

We filled our flats with soil media (Premier Pro-Mix), set our seeds on top, and capped our flats with Espoma Organic Seed Starter Premium Potting Mix with Myco-Tone.