Detroit Dark Red

Detroit Dark Red


Beta vulgaris

Old heirloom beet from an 1892 selection of the variety “Early blood turnip”. Widely adapted and a mid-season variety that produces reliably and historically been used in the canning industry. It typically has uniform round roots and the greens are similar to chard.

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Packet will plant a 15 foot row (150 seeds)

You can sow beet seed around the average last frost date; the end of April in zone 7 and continue to sow seed every 2-3 weeks through the summer until late summer for production from early summer into early winter.  You will have plenty of beets over a long harvest period by succession planting.  

Sow the seeds (actually, corky seed balls) about an inch apart and cover the seed with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil.  The best beets grow rapidly in nutrient rich soils rich in trace elements.  Drought and other stress conditions delay growth adversely and affect the crop.  Beets need several hours of full sunlight day.

If your seedlings seem to be crowding each other out use them in salads.  A late crop of beets heavily mulched will allow you to harvest the roots into the winter.  They can also be stored as a “root cellar” crop where winters are too cold.  Some of the modern sugar beet/ red beet hybrids are sweet enough to grate into salads and eat raw and the greens are very mild with none of the harsh oxalic taste that characterize some beets.   All beets are wonderful roasted. Serve with crumbled gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.   Also boiled, their skin slips off after boiling with a little scrub under running water…and you can slice them up and prepared them with raw sliced onion, oil and vinegar in a chilled salad garnished with parsley or chopped scallion.  Some beets have attractive beet tops and are bred to provide tasty greens.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and immerse greens for 2-3 minutes, drain and chop, then sauté them with oil, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and before serving, a squeeze of lemon.

To produce a seed crop you will have to overwinter the roots either by mulching them in the field or moving them to a cold, frost free area until they can be planted in the spring (they are biennials and take two years to flower and seed.  Beets will cross with each other, sugar beets and chard.  A large beet root is capable of producing a sprawling plant with lots of seeds early in the second year.  Wait till the plant begins to die and the long spikes with clusters of seed balls turn brown.