Growing beets in your garden can give you access to the many beautiful, tasty varieties of heirloom and specialty beets that you just can’t get from the grocery store. Here’s how to grow beets organically…
History of Beetroot
Both beets and Swiss chard are different varieties within the same plant family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) and their edible leaves share a resemblance in both taste and texture. However, unlike chard, attached to the beet’s green leaves is a sweet, round or oblong root.
The wild beet, the ancestor of the beet with which we are familiar today, is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and eventually spread wild along Asian and European seashores. In these earlier times, people exclusively ate the beet greens and not the roots.
The ancient Romans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate beets to use their roots as food. The tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for spreading beets throughout northern Europe where they were first used for animal fodder and later for human consumption later in the 16th century.
Beets’ value grew in the 19th century when it was discovered that they were a concentrated source of sugar, and the first sugar beet factory was built in Poland.
Peas are pretty easy to grow. Just give them cool, spring weather, composted soil that drains well, and some climbing support. If you’re short on space, peas can be grown in containers, along walls, or trained up corn and sunflower stalks.
History and Culture of Peas
Peas are one of the world’s oldest crops. Wild peas were foraged centuries before they were domesticated as the trellis climbers we know today. Peas were one of the first plants to be selectively bred by farmers, and were the key crop that Gregor Mendel used in the 1800s to figure out how plant genetics and hybridization worked.
Related: The Difference Between Open Pollinated Seeds, Hybrids, and GMOs
There are many heirloom and specialty varieties of peas available in garden catalogs. Peas come in two basic types: shelling peas and “snap” or “snow” peas. Both types need the same conditions for growing, but shelling peas do not have an edible pod and therefore the peas must be removed or “shucked” from the pod after harvest.
In contrast, snap or snow peas are meant to be eaten whole, pod and all.
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