As I've noted before, this year I've been visiting the Schlafly Gardenworks -- a large (to me) urban garden just outside the St. Louis city limits in "historic" Maplewood. As the gardeners there are 95% focused on growing food, I thought I'd pick up some tips on getting my veggie garden producing this year. Three years of disappointing harvests motivated me, and I remade my veggie beds earlier this year, got the cool season plant seeds in the ground early, and things are looking pretty good.

One tip I got from head gardener Jack may or may not pay off for me, as I'm not sure I've implemented it correctly. When I mentioned that my beet yields often disappoint, Jack said that he's found that the seedlings don't have the "strength" to punch through any sort of crust on top of the soil, so he always starts his beets indoors in a nice light mix and transplants the seedlings. So I thought I'd give it a try.


This worked fine for me, as I think beet seedlings are about the most attractive edible plants around and love being able to look at them on the plant table whenever I want.

They germinated fine, grew, and kept growing.

The thing I may have done wrong was wait too long to transplant outdoors.

You can see that the roots have really meshed in the small tray of seed starting mix:

Nothing to do but forge ahead though, so I ruthlessly (but carefully) broke apart all of the plants:

I cleared away some of the maple seeds that cover every inch of my yard, planting beds, and pond:

And into the ground the little beetlings went:

Jack also mentioned that he plants his beet starts a little deeper when transplanting and that has worked well for him, so that's what I did too.

I have to admit that the soil is quite nice here now after the rebuild -- the best it's ever been. My beets from last year are apparently loving it:

They are going to seed now, so their supply of greens is almost done, and they'll get pulled before too long:

One reason I've waited so long to get these into the garden was the weather. It's been sunny and breezy (but cool) for the last week, and I was waiting for an overcast day or two. I timed things perfectly, because not only was yesterday cloudy all day, but it rained on and off all day and night. Same forecast for today.

No worries about these guys drying out, and I hope they spread those roots quickly.

They look a lot better in the soil, don't they?

I should start some more beet seeds now -- extending my harvests by staggering my seed planting is another thing Jack advised. I'm listening!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 14, 2012 at 9:21 AM)  

It's great that you're picking up all these valuable tips from Schlafly Gardenworks. All I have to do is read your blog :-).

We haven't even started our veggie garden yet. All our tomatoes, pepper and basil plants are still inside where they are happily growing. The nights are still too cold for them to be outside.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (April 14, 2012 at 12:31 PM)  

Those beet seedlings look pretty good planted. Don't they make wonderful photographic subjects? I just love the colours.

Andrea  – (April 14, 2012 at 8:07 PM)  

I love your fotos most of all. When i saw your title i thought you are also into looking for ladybugs coz of "beetling". Then i realized what you mean by it now, LOL. I love most especially that close up of the red stems.

Barbie  – (April 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM)  

Your beets are just beautiful! It is really helpful getting good tips and advice when growing veggies - I found this to be true! Enjoy yours! I loved the greens and the chickens always got a handfull every morning.

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