Greens early. You can start enjoying your beet crop at the first thinning. Simply cut greens during the thinning process to use in salads. Pull up baby beets when they reach 1 inch in diameter (and cook them up with their stems). When harvesting larger beets, leave 1 to 2 inches of the stems attached to prevent any staining or "bleeding."
After the frost. For a fall harvest, pull up your beet crop after a hard frost.
Be sure to cut off the tops close to the roots and store the beets in a box of sand in a cool place like a basement or a root cellar until you are ready to eat them. Greens can be cut, washed, and stored in the fridge until needed for salads,
stir-fries, or steaming on the side as a "mess o' greens."
Supersweet and white: 'Albina Vereduna', a close cousin of the sugar beet, contains twice as much sugar as red beets. A pure white Dutch heirloom, it needs to be steamed lightly—it turns a bit gray when overcooked. High in calcium. Matures in 50 to 60 days.
Heirloom favorite: 'Detroit Dark Red', a classic dating to 1892, is still one of the best for sweet roots and tasty greens. Perfect fresh or for canning. Matures in 60 to 65 days.
Great for storage: 'Red Ace' produces tender greens perfect for salads and rich red roots that resist "zoning" (alternating red and white rings caused by excessive heat). Stores exceptionally well. Matures in 50 to 60 days.
Yellow heirloom: 'Golden Beet' has bright yellow flesh and a sweet-potato-like flavor. Improve its low germination rate by soaking the seed in bathtub-warm water for one hour, then sow 1 inch apart. Sow extra-thick, since it doesn't produce as well as the red varieties. Matures in 50 to 60 days.
Bull's-eye classic: 'Chioggia' is an Italian heirloom (dating to 1880) with naturally occurring red-and-white-striped flesh (not zoning caused by stress) and sweet flavor, with flavorful leaves as well. Grows well in spring and fall. Steam lightly to avoid "bleeding." Matures in 55 to 65 days.
Heat- and disease-resistant: 'Kestrel', a sweet, dark-red globe globe baby beet, is very resistant to disease and bolting. Matures in 50 to 55 days.