Monday, June 17, 2013

Choosing mangel wurzels for seedstock

One of the jobs for today was to pull up my bed of Geante Blanch (Giant white) mangel wurzels and choose the best to replant for seed.
Before I start I have to say that my sister who reads my posts every day, and who gives me s**t if I miss a day has insisted that I take more 'selfies' when I am out taking photos. The photos of me here are a bit wonky because the post I put them on didn't have a flat top. Well... at least I made an effort, lol.

 This was not a large bed, it just had my seedstock in it so I didn't have to have a whole lot of plants.
I pulled them up so I could choose the best plants to replant for seed. If you don't cull heavily you end up collecting seed from plants you don't want and they just pass their bad genes onto their offspring.

My perfect mangels would have these traits:
1, Large, well formed roots with no forking or undue hairiness
2, Lots of leaves. These beets are duel purpose and I want them to continue to be good for forage as well as for the kitchen.
3, No tough core
4, Sweet and tender with no bitter aftertaste
5, Sweet and tender leaves

First I threw away any root that was not up to scratch as far as size and shape are concerned. I plant closely but all seedlings had the same conditions so any that were too small from overcrowding went as they obviously didn't grow as fast as the others before being crowded.

I took a core sample from each root with a knife to check it for taste and hard core and found to my joy that although they had small variations in tenderness, none had a hard core.

Then I tasted the leaves for bitterness. The thing I hate about most beet greens is the bitter aftertaste.

Even if a beet had a perfect looking root it is no good if it doesn't taste good.

One plant I rejected had a good root but very curled leaves (naturally, not from insect attack). I usually like to play with plants that show unusual traits but this trait would give any insects a good hiding place which I don't want.

 I was lucky to find three plants that ticked all the boxes and ended up replanting 32 beets which were as close as I could get to perfect. When they start to flower I will uproot any early bolters and will probably end up with around 25 plants for seed.

After replanting them I took all the cut-off leaves (on the side of the picture) and threw them back on the bed for mulch.

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