The beetroot seedlings are now a month old. Although a few sprouted well, growth has been slow and spindley, and the germination rate was poor.
Following a little research on growing beetroot I discovered that beetroots produce a seed ball which consists of a mass of individual seeds. If the seed ball is planted germination rates are low and seedlings are weak and spindley, rarely surviving to maturity. To increase germination and survival rates it was recommended to soak the seed ball for 24 hours to release the individual seeds. Now I know what I did wrong, I am armed for future sowings.
Whenever I sow seeds into compost I find a number of tomato plants volunteer. Rather than weeding them out I leave one or two plants to grow alongside the seedlings as they emerge. I do this mainly as a form of insect control. The shape and colour of the tomato plants is different to that of the seedlings thereby confusing insects that recognise their crop of choice by sight. Tomato leaves also have a strong aroma which masks the scent of the beetroot or other plants that have been sown. Additionally, tomato leaves have insecticidal properties which may further deter insects. As well as all this, I get lots of tomatoes!