'Boltardy' is quite hardy and can be sown earlier than most. Beets, though grown as an annual, are really biennials. Originally, beets had no thick, rounded roots, but just leafy tops. Swiss chard is actually an improved beet. Today's modern beet has been bred to have a fleshy, swollen root (in white, red or yellow) from which a rosettle of leaves appears. Though most folks grow beets for their roots, the tops can be eaten too. Beets are best grown in cooler areas of the country, but will go to seed without making roots if the weather is too cold. In the South, they are grown as a winter crop. Hot weather causes beet roots to become very woody. Beets do well in shade and thrive in loose, well-worked soil, high in organic matter that is not acidic. Plenty of potassium should be woked into the soil.