CULTIVATION OF BEETROOT SEEDS
The beetroot is biannual and cross-fertilizes with other kinds of beetroot and also with chard, certain turnips, sugar beet and mangel-wurzels. The winds carry the light pollen a long, long way. There must be ample distance between the different sorts preferably 1000 m if there is another blooming Beta vulgaris cultivation downwind.
Beetroots for storage and for seed-cultivation must be sown in June-July, not to grow too large before harvest. After taking them up in autumn, cut the tops down to 4-5 cm. Do not delay storing them. They should be stored in sand, moist peat or the like.
All roots which are not correctly shaped, pointed or with too large top-fastenings should not be used, nor damaged or tainted roots. But save enough so that there are at least 5 roots to set out in early spring next year as soon as the earth is ready. Plant them 40-50 cm apart with the growth-point alongside the surface. Then water them! The blooming plants easily reach a metre tall and are bushy (may need support), so have at least 70 cm between the rows.
The flowers are set densely along the stem. They are really 2-6 green-white flowers in each one. They grow together to a fruit of several seeds during ripening. The ripening of the seeds is dependent on the weather and can occur between August and October. When the seeds have changed to brown and the plants wither, pull them out whole. Frequently there are some unripe green seeds left in the tops of the shoots. Cut of the roots and hang the rest of the plants out to dry, preferably in the sun. The first ripe and best seeds sit loosely, be careful. Put a sheet or something like that beneath the drying plants to capture the tumbling seeds.
When the seeds are dry you can easily strip off the seeds with your hands, larger amounts being threshed with a flail or a threshing-mill. Sieve or winnow the rubbish away and dry the seeds again.