Beat beets

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by soccerdad, May 24, 2020.

  1. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I grew beets for the first time this year. They were looking very good indeed. But yesterday I saw that about 10 of them had separated where the stalk joins the root. Nothing seemed to have been eaten - squirrels are the only candidates - but the plants were dead.

    The remaining beets still looked very good. But today I see another 10 lying dead on the ground. This shows some of them:
    upload_2020-5-24_14-26-20.png

    Does anyone know what could be causing this? I grow flowers but never succeed with vegetables so it is quite disheartening.
     
  2. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,440
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Burnaby, Canada
    Were the tops cut off cleanly from the roots, or is something eating the roots/bulbs under the tops?
     
  3. Margot

    Margot Contributor

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    306
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    You will at least cook and eat the tops won't you?
     
  4. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    Cleanly cut off. I wonder if something happened so the foots never really developed - will dig up and check (if it ever stops raining)
     
  5. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    They have the consistency of wet kleenex.
     
  6. Margot

    Margot Contributor

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    306
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    If you cook them like you would spinach (stalks and all) and squeeze out most of the excess water; salt and pepper, a bit of butter - delicious!

    Still, that's just just cutting your losses - I have no idea why they are apparently rotting off at ground level.
     
  7. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I'd suspected Common voles as the cause of this damage.
     
  8. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I don't think we have voles in Canada.
     
  9. Margot

    Margot Contributor

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    306
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    I'm afraid we do . . . I saw my first vole last year - inside a tall plastic bucket . . . no idea how it got there.
    See: Nature Notes Voles and Shrews
    For more information on different species of voles check: Voles E-Fauna BC and be sure to look at the interactive maps.
     
  10. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    9,926
    Likes Received:
    325
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Yes, voles are a significant problem at UBC.
     
  11. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I have tried to dig up the roots but found none. It looks like the tops grew without significant roots until their weight caused them to fall over, after which they quickly broke/rotted off at the soil line. I have wondered for some time if my soil lacks something; perhaps that is the problem.
     
  12. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I have exactly the same damage on my beets, beans and cabbages now. And the cause in my case is a common vole.
    Beets won't grow significant uppers without proper roots. A vole eats essential section of the upper root, the uppers fall over, the remaining part of the root dries into thin unrecognizeable organic matter piece fast.
     
  13. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    Have you identified a solution?
     
  14. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I have 3 solutions against the voles:
    1. I know from previous experiences how much these voles usually damage my vegetables, so I sow more dense than I want.
    2. Neighbours cat used to hunt voles daily on my vegetable beds. Last year she died (the cat), so this year this solution won't work so well, but I have seen two other cats occasionally still hunting there.
    3. In my melon tent I use mouse traps to fight against the voles. It is very sad to see when melons with 1 metre long growths and already bloomed have been chewed through from the roots. Because of birds and cats I can't use traps outside the tent. This is also one of the reasons why I can't use poison.

    I had fourth solution too, but because there are too many female neighbours, I can't use it as freely as I like. Grass snakes used to like my rhubarb bed and have been living there several years. A grass snake is a good vole catcher. But she likes warmth also and likes to go to the neighbours greenhouse, where she frightens neighbours. So I have had to catch snakes and carry them few kilometres away into bog, to keep neighbours calm. But from time to time a new grass snake appears.

    A grass snake hunting in my garden:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
    wcutler likes this.
  15. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    I think it is something else: The roots are not developing but the leaves are growing and so eventually the leaves become too heavy for the weak root system and fall over, putting stress on the place where the plant crosses the soil line and breaking it off there. Here are photos of a photo of a beet that I grabbed when it was half fallen over and you will see that there is no break in it at all; the roots have simply not developed enough to support the leaves:


    upload_2020-6-10_21-36-28.png upload_2020-6-10_21-37-10.png
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2020
  16. Margot

    Margot Contributor

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    306
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    I would forget about your silly neighbours regarding snakes. I'm not a bit fan of snakes either but recognize their value in the garden. Time to grow up! The fact that the snakes are happy in your garden is testament to your environmentally-friendly garden practices. Why should you move them out when they help control other problem species like voles? If I were you, I'd build a greenhouse of my own and encourage even more of them to call your garden, home.
     
  17. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I don't think, that my neighbours are silly regarding snakes. My grass snakes have scared even me several times. I think, that sudden meeting with a snake is scaring for most of people, and this fear has ancient origin.
    I don't consider my gardening practices especially environmentally friendly. If to be environmentally friendly, then these voles are also nature, and I should not fight with them. I have pretty much usual utilitarian viewpoint. Voles destroy my crops, hence bad. Grass snakes hunt voles, hence good.
     
  18. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    If your soil is very rocky or heavy clay, then beets may have trouble to grow deep root system. And then wind may push them over.
    Maybe deeper sowing and earthing would help?
    Strong winds are dangerous for crops at certain development phase.
     
  19. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    Farmers' Bulletin, Issues 1626-1650 does mention sand blast (grinding effect of sand particles driven along the row by the wind).
    Farmers' Bulletin
     
  20. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I enlarged your first photo, and to me they look chewed. They do not look like any other above mentioned possible damage.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    There is no rock in my garden with a diameter of more than .5 cm. And the soil is not clay-ey.
     
  22. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    The first photos struck me as possibly chewed, which is why I grabbed a later one as it was falling over but before it had broken/been eaten off, to see what the roots looked like at that point.
     
  23. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,440
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Burnaby, Canada
    Soccerdad, to me, the roots of your second set of photos look perfectly normal. Beets don't have very extensive root systems.
     
  24. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    8,000
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Now I'm confused. Beets have beets. Those round things you buy that are hard to cut into and take so long to cook. Why shouldn't soccerdad expect to find those? We see them in the stores all the time.
     
  25. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    539
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Estonia
    I can't agree with you. As beet seed, sold in gardening centres, is actually a fruit (utricle) and contains often multiple seeds, I often replant some beets from groups grown from one fruit, into voids, that are caused by vole damage or some other reason. And according to my experiences, young beet plant, that has only up to 5 cm height above the ground could have 15 cm long or even longer straight tap root in the ground.
    For proper, deep development beet roots need soft/loose ground. Stones, even as small as with few centimetres in diametre, heavy lumps of soil, old roots in the ground, manure lumps etc can cause abnormal, warped development of beet roots. In my garden, these beets with warped tap root won't survive, as I have very sandy soil and its top surface suffers often by lack of moisture. Beets, that don't grow straight deep tap root can't get enough water and nutrients from the ground, their uppers stay tiny, and they dry out eventually.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020

Share This Page