Too late, too big?

I was doing a little work in my veggie garden -- the first of many tasks I need to do to get this part of the garden back into shape before spring -- and noticed that some of my beets are looking pretty good right now.

Or are they? This one is huge, and looks pretty woody. Is it still edible?


The plants look pretty good still, but they've been in the ground for at least 4 months -- maybe more like 5 or 6.

Some of the roots are pretty pathetic, barely the size of a golfball:

This one though is gigantic, the size of a coconut or cantaloupe:

Will this even be edible? Is it worth it for me to harvest? I know I'll want to do it before the plant starts using its reserves to grow in the spring (and produce flowers then seeds), but I wonder if it would be best just left alone.

Some of the leaves are certainly pretty right now:

But still, what should I do?

What would you do? Harvest and eat, harvest and compost, or just let it keep growing? Suggestions in the comments please. Thanks!


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scottweberpdx  – (January 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM)  

Yeah...anything THAT big is probably pretty woody...I wouldn't want to eat'd chip a tooth!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 11, 2012 at 9:32 AM)  

Not sure they're still good. For your readers' sake, leave them in the ground and let's see what happens :-)

Steve Lau  – (January 11, 2012 at 3:07 PM)  

When I left beets or radishes over winter like that, they flowered the following spring and seeds are good to harvest by fall. Usually I get much larger better results when I plant these seeds in the fall, let them get to 3-4 inches tall to over-winter and they will turn into plump less woody and larger vegetables than when they are usually sowed in the spring, kind of like garlic.

Barbie  – (January 11, 2012 at 5:36 PM)  

Hi Alan - this is a coconut-sized beet, I must say! :-). It looks woody and certainly not going to taste good. I would add it to the compost heap. I have read that you should harvest all your vegetables to prevent bug infestations that could damage any new plants. Put it down to a learning curve when growing veggies. I do it too to see how big a plant can get and what seeds it produces. I have a celery plant that is nearly a tree. I will take photos for you.

Kathy G  – (January 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM)  

I don't think it's a lot of work to prepare a beet, so I'd be inclined to harvest it and give it a taste. The worst that would happen is that it will end up in the compost pile if it DOES turn out to be inedible.

JiffyJ  – (January 11, 2012 at 8:54 PM)  

My aunt keeps the "too late" beets in the ground and eats the greens in salads. By not harvesting and composting the big guys, she gets a year-round supply.

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