Golden beets have been around for about 100 years, but ‘Touchstone Gold’, a 2008 introduction, promises to be a dramatic improvement over the old favorite. According to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which sells the seeds, Beta vulgaris ‘Touchstone Gold’ germinates more reliably than other golden beets. It also has more uniform roots and smoother shoulders, as well as a sweet flavor and bright gold color that won’t fade after cooking. The roots are tastiest when harvested small. Matures in 53 days.
Common name: Golden beet
Botanical name: Beta vulgaris ‘Touchstone Gold’
Plant type: Vegetable
Height: About 12 inches
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Light and rich in organic matter
• Moisture: Medium to moist. Beets need a steady supply of water to mature quickly without becoming tough.
• Mulch: Mulch to retain soil moisture.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.
• By seed.
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to aphids, cutworms, and leaf miners.
• Susceptible to powdery mildew, downy mildew, and some root rots.
• Beets like cool weather. Plant in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. For a continuous crop, plant every two weeks until late summer.
• Harvest beets when they’re small—about 1 inch across—or wait and let them get a little bigger.
• While beets are growing, you can harvest up to one-third of the leaves on each plant. If the leaves are small (under 3 inches), they taste good in salads. Serve larger leaves as cooked greens.
All in the family
• The Beta genus is small: It contains only five or six species, including beets and chard.
• The Chenopodiaceae family also contains spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and the South American grain quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of ‘Touchstone Gold’ beet courtesy of National Garden Bureau)