About Merlin Beet: Beets seem to have originated in the Mediterrenean region, where people grew them for thousands of years. Later, beets grew in Germany and Holland and were used as cattle fodder; they were later imported to England for this purpose, but the poor began to raise them for an affordable food source. American colonists later brought them to the New World, where they became a commonly enjoyed food both for their roots and their greens. According to historians, George Washington experimented with beets, cross-pollinating them to create new varieties.
Merlin Beet Germination: Plant a full month before the last expected frost. Presoak seeds for two hours before planting to soften the hard seed coat and speed germination. Direct sow in full sun and well drained soil, placing the seeds 1/2" deep and 2-4" apart in rows 1-2' apart. Add compost or other organic matter for healthy growth, and tamp down the earth above the seeds to ensure the seed's close contact with the soil. Germination should take place in 7-14 days. For companion planting benefits, plant beets with bush beans, onions, or members of the cabbage family; avoid planting them near pole beans.
Growing Merlin Beet Seeds: Since each beet "seed" holds up to eight actual seeds, the seedlings will need to be thinned to 4" apart. The thinned plants do well as a second crop, as transplanting them will slow their growth for about two weeks behind the original plants. Keep the young plants watered and weeded, taking care not to bruise the tender young plants when weeding. They can survive temperatures down to 25 degrees F.
Harvesting Merlin Beet: Beets can be harvested any time after they reach a size of 1" in diameter, usually after about two months of growth. For best taste and tenderness, do not allow beets to grow over 3" in diameter. After pulling them, twist off the tops about 1" up the stem to prevent the beets from bleeding. Up to one third of the tasty beet greens can also be harvested without damaging the plant.
Saving Merlin Beet Seeds: Because this variety of beet is a hybrid, the seed it produces will either be sterile or will revert to the characteristics to one of the parent seeds; reproducing this type from its own seed will not be successful.
Detailed Merlin Beet Info: Beta vulgaris. Biennial. 55 days to maturity. 2700 seeds an oz. 6-12" height. 2-4" spacing. Produces 3-4" uniformly round, dark red beets with pink stemmed green tops.