Who needs water? You just can’t beet the heat

The beetroot at the Slow Food Earth Markets Maitland loves the heat


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DRY TIMES: Little Hill Farm's Kelly Eaton with some of the beetroot that loves hot and dry conditions. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DRY TIMES: Little Hill Farm's Kelly Eaton with some of the beetroot that loves hot and dry conditions. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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If you can't beet em, join em. Tasty beetroot signals dry times.

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While we’re looking to the sky and hoping for rain the NSW Hunter Valley region’s beetroots are sending out different vibes.

They love it hot, and dry. And they’re not afraid to show it.

The beetroot patch at Little Hill Farm in Mount Vincent is flourishing even though rain over the past few months has been scarce. 

There’s a 20 metre long patch of them that is about three plants wide and they’re not getting any water.

Even without a drop of H20 they’re doing better than the fennel, the rainbow carrots, the radish and the broccoli that is growing in a bed nearby. 

Kelly Eaton and Simon Carroll rely on their dam to nourish their poultry and vegetable businesses and at times this like this the vegetables have to miss out. 

“We have another two garden plots that aren’t in production, we are in that conserve water mode so we won’t plant anything else at the moment,” Ms Eaton said.

“We have to make sure there’s enough water for the chickens, so sometimes the veggies have to miss out.

“We’ll wait and see what the weather does and then decide whether we will plant anything else.”

Some of the beetroot crop made the trip to the last Slow Food Earth Market in The Levee and they’re bright colour and healthy stems proved the conditions have helped them excel.

“They are growing faster at the moment – they’ve been in the ground for a while  now – I haven’t planted new beetroot for a couple of months,” she said. 

“We plant them quite thick so we can pick the baby ones to thin them out and then the other ones can grow bigger.

“We grow them all year around, you can do that in our climate. They grow slower or faster depending on the weather.”

Stop by the Little Hill Farm stand at the market and you’ll notice the beetroot is sold with the stems attached. 

“I like to sell ours with the tops on because a lot of people aren’t aware that you can use them,” she said.

“It’s good for you, it tastes like spinach.

“Some people don’t like to use them so they give them to their chooks or put it in the compost bin. 

“You can cook them with the tops on and add some garlic ... you can even make a beet top pie.

“I really like to use the bottom of the beetroot fresh and grate it up into a salad – even though it can be messy, I just wear gloves. “I also like it roasted; I like to use coconut oil as it gives it a nice flavour and then add salt and pepper and put it in a hot oven of about 200 degrees.”

NEXT MARKET

The Slow Food Earth Market will be held in The Levee on today (October 5) and October 19 between 2pm and 6pm.

The Maitland Mercury

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