My Beets Aren’t Sweet-The Cure for Growing Bitter Beets and Chard

In one quick word Borax! The first time I attempted to grow beets and chard they all came up inedible bitter and miscoloured. The “master gardeners” at the local garden centre suggested drought can also cause poor taste and white veining in beets but my problem was not just poor taste it was complete inedibility, it wasn’t just light rings, my golden beets were muddy grey and my bright lights chard was more 1990’s pastels. I searched high and low for a cure and I can only guess this is not that common of a problem, but I finally found a solution. I want to credit Carolyn Herriot’s wonderful book “A Year On The Garden Path” as the source for this bitter fixer upper but for the life of me I can’t find the exact source at this moment so if I have misquoted someone I apologize. To almost instantly fix bitter beet root and chard, while it is still growing in the ground, mix a couple table spoons of borax into about 4 liters of water, in a watering can pour this mixture over the beets/chard, followed by another watering can of fresh water, I find this works for about a four foot row of beets or chard, the next day your beets should be sweet. The theory goes beets and chard need boron for proper development, in mineral deficient soil like mine, I have to amend the soil with everything but I have never seen boron available in the fertilizer section at the nursery, on the other hand borax can be found in most grocery stores in the laundry soap isle. If you know you have super poor soil(like I do) before planting work in a small sprinkle of borax with your fertilizers, just try to keep it segregated to the beet patch other plants are not fond of borax. I should probably add a disclaimer after reading borax’s web site although they recommend the addition of borax to growing sunflowers(who knew!) to improve seed production, they go on to say you shouldn’t eat amounts of borax larger than 1 teaspoon, so adding borax to the beet patch is probably not a part of the garden project you want to do with the kids, if the children in your garden are samplers and tasters.

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