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?

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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 it...you'd chip a tooth!

Gerhard Bock  – (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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