Belongs to the same species as chard and beets, but tastes more like a real spinach, and the leaves look like spinach. Yields from late spring to autumn if planted early & rarely bolts in its first year.
The leaves are a good hot weather substitute for spinach and can be available all year round if the winters are not too severe. In severe winters it is possible to dig up some plants and move them to a protected area such as a greenhouse in order to produce fresh leaves.
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in sun or light shade in moist soils but prefers a rich well-drained light neutral to alkaline soil. Beets grow well in a variety of soils, growing best in a deep, friable well-drained soil abundant with organic matter, but doing poorly on clay. They prefer an open position and a light well-drained soil.
A good companion for dwarf beans, onions and kohl rabi. Its growth is inhibited by runner beans, charlock and field mustard.
Although little used in modern herbalism, beet has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of tumours.
Leaves - raw or cooked like spinach. A very good spinach substitute, the leaves are large and easily harvested, yields are high. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Leaf stems - cooked. The steamed stems retain their crispness and have a delicious flavour, they are considered to be a gourmet vegetable.
Flowering stem - cooked. A broccoli substitute.