The paths are slimy and moist after I wander as much as the vegetable plot on the prime of the backyard. The bottom is sodden and the leaves of the leeks, chard and beetroot are bedraggled by days of rain. 

However ease a couple of beetroots out with a fork and the beets themselves seem, their tops wizened with publicity to mild and air however, as soon as rinsed below a faucet, their subterranean sections are as shiny and glossy as burgundy satin.

I’ve three sorts of beetroot rising this yr. There may be Bulls Blood, an outdated favorite that, because the title suggests, has a wealthy crimson color and darkish leaves which might be excellent eaten uncooked in a salad. 

Chioggia has white flesh with concentric pink rings. It’s very candy, with an earthy flavour, and is called after the port on the southern finish of the Venetian lagoon. I at all times affiliate the Veneto – the world round Venice – with its crimson greens reminiscent of beetroot and numerous sorts of chicory. 

UK-based gardening expert Monty Don, says beetroot is easy to grow, liking rich, well-drained soil and best in full sun. Pictured: Monty with some of his beetroot

UK-based gardening professional Monty Don, says beetroot is straightforward to develop, liking wealthy, well-drained soil and greatest in full solar. Pictured: Monty with a few of his beetroot

Lastly, there’s a golden-coloured selection referred to as, appropriately, Golden. It’s nearly apricot in color and has a pink tinge that’s very good-looking.

I used to be introduced up concerning beetroot as one thing that was solely ever eaten chilly, having been boiled, cooled, and served (doused in vinegar) with a salad (which invariably included lettuce and hard-boiled egg and was served with mayonnaise relatively than what was then referred to as vinaigrette). 


Q I had a raised mattress for the primary time final yr however some small, very pale slugs destroyed every little thing I grew in it. To stop a recurrence, I’m pondering of utilizing a pesticide. Which one would do least hurt to the setting?

Joan Brook, Bucks

A The offenders sound like gray subject slugs. The eggs have been in all probability within the soil used to fill the mattress. However pesticides do extra hurt than good. As a substitute, encourage predators reminiscent of thrushes, hedgehogs, beetles and toads to go to your backyard. Additionally, slugs love younger seedlings so increase them below cowl earlier than planting out.

Q My 30-year-old camellia flowers nicely nevertheless it has developed yellow leaves. How can I cease this?

Tom Munt, Berks

A It seems like your soil could also be too alkaline for camellias, which thrive in acidic soil. Utilizing a mulch of composted bracken or pine needles will assist, together with a weekly feed of natural iron fertiliser between March and October.

Q I plant winter aconites amongst my snowdrops so as to add some yellow to the combo however one thing retains consuming the petals. Do you’ve any thought what this could be?

D Cockburn, Herts

A I think birds are the culprits. They actually eat – or at the very least vandalise – crocus petals, pondering they’re one thing juicy.

Write to Monty Don at Weekend, Every day Mail, 2 Derry Avenue, London W8 5TT or e-mail Please embody your full title and tackle. We remorse Monty can’t reply to letters personally.

That is completely nice and all – however there are such a lot of different methods to prepare dinner and revel in beetroot! I adore it roasted with beneficiant sprigs of thyme and served with roast meat or a scorching cream sauce. Beetroot soup is scrumptious regardless of which approach you make it, whether or not that be a correct borscht or a a lot less complicated kitchen soup. 

In fact, it’s now stylish to have beetroot juices (how my dad and mom and their technology would have been bemused by this!). However, on prime of their deliciousness, beetroots are extremely good for you, bettering blood stress, digestion and irritation.

And beetroot is very easy to develop. It’s a part of the identical household as sugar beet, spinach, chard and, extra surprisingly, quinoa. All like wealthy, well-drained soil and are very hardy however, like most greens, do greatest in full solar.

The seeds are in little nuggety clusters so every seed might produce a variety of seedlings. I often sow into module trays, not worrying if a couple of seeds go in every module. 

These will develop as a little bit cluster of beets and cease any getting too massive whereas pushing one another aside to permit room for them to develop to a handy dimension (someplace between a golf and a cricket ball). 

The benefit of elevating them below cowl is which you could make a sowing as early as February so they’re able to plant as quickly because the soil warms up in spring.

The seedlings develop slowly however ought to have harvestable roots by mid-summer. These will fortunately sit within the floor all winter though, as they age, they grow to be woody.

However, these woody, over-large beets will sprout scrumptious new leaves in early spring that are perfect for salads.

The primary factor to observe for is the vegetation working to seed or bolting – rising flowers – which is able to stop the roots from rising. This can be a response to being too scorching, too chilly, too moist or too dry. 

The reply is to strive to make sure a gentle and constant provide of vitamins and hope the climate shouldn’t be too erratic. 


Monty said cyclamen coum (pictured) is hardy and do well in dry shade, the soil should be enriched and an annual mulch of leaf mould is ideal

Monty mentioned cyclamen coum (pictured) is hardy and do nicely in dry shade, the soil ought to be enriched and an annual mulch of leaf mould is good

The cyclamen – cyclamen coum not cyclamen hederifolium – are flowering in my backyard. They’re hardy and do nicely in dry shade, the soil ought to be enriched and an annual mulch of leaf mould is good. 

Plant in late summer season, conserving the corms shallow with the tops just below the floor. Squirrels generally is a drawback so cowl newly planted corms with a layer of rooster wire with a few inches of soil over that to discourage them. 

By no means combine cyclamen coum with cyclamen hederifolium because the latter will at all times crowd out the previous.


Pruning now, when the tree is dormant, stimulates vigorous regrowth, and permits mild in and air to flow into. At all times reduce to one thing, be it a bud, one other department or the trunk. Take away any misshapen, weak, crossing or crowded progress.