IF I were to sum up my week in a word: beetroot. The big harvest was a fortnight ago and I’ve been pondering what to do with it all ever since.

As I type, I have two-tone digits with a dayglow pink section from knuckles to fingertips. There are off-purple, almost cerise patches. Even though I’ve been diligently washing my hands (I swear, Nicola Sturgeon and Jason Leitch, these paws are scrubbed), some stubborn staining of the beetroot remains.

It’s a bit like when you went to the dentist as a child and were given a little pink disclosing tablet that showed up all the plaque on your teeth and gums.

When I decided to grow beetroot, I didn’t imagine there would be such a bounty. The packet of seeds came free with a gardening magazine my mum sent to keep me amused during lockdown. I envisaged a handful of plants might take root in the raised bed at the bottom of the garden.

But grow they did. I thinned out the plants on a baking hot day, one of those balmy afternoons where I underestimated the strength of the sun. Despite wearing a long-sleeved top that came past my wrists, I ended up with sunburned fingers. An omen.

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I’ve had less luck with the carrots. Maybe it was over-fertilisation, something to do with moisture levels in the soil, or perhaps it happened when I thinned them out in slapdash manner, but most of them ended up with multiple roots. And hairy.

This has given the crop a comical appearance with a slew of hirsute, helter-skelter legs that look like they are doing the splits, hurdling an invisible stile, or performing the can-can at Moulin Rouge. There is a distinct Chernobyl-esque vibe.

It is also a happy reminder of my fun-filled days as a trainee reporter when I was dispatched to call upon all the local gardening shows in deepest, darkest Hampshire on an August bank holiday weekend.

I was tasked with compiling a page on the various winners of the odd-shaped vegetables contests around the county. What a hoot. It remains one of my all-time favourite assignments.

This column isn’t really about beetroot, though. Nor carrots. I know there are far bigger things going on in the world. It’s about distracting myself – and hopefully you in the few moments it takes to read this – from the swirling vortex of bleak news.

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Instead of worrying about what lies ahead and lamenting all the places I can’t go and the people I can’t see, I am pickling and sauteing and roasting and boiling and pureeing and blanching and freezing and leafing through cookbooks in search of other ideas of things to do with beetroot.

Next, I’ll start on the carrots. It is mundane and rewarding and the kind of escapism I need right now (there’s only so many episodes of Murder, She Wrote that can take the edge off things). It is everything and it is nothing. It is something.

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