Q/ Do Mangelwurzels really exist and can you still buy the seed?

A/The Mangel wurzel is a very large beet, the name deriving from the word German word Mangel for Chard and Wurzel for Root. It derives from Beta vulgaris and was a popular form of stock feed for all farm livestock in the eighteenth century onwards. It can also be eaten by humans when it is young and the leaves too can be used.

When fully grown it can weigh in at around 10 kilos. It seems to be particularly beneficial to livestock as it is a nutritious feed. It's been somewhat superseded these days by other livestock feeds that provide more balanced nutrition and also the changing requirements of the leaner, more highly productive farm livestock.

But that doesn't mean it's not a useful and possibly crop for the smallholder, together with Fodder beet. The huge roots provide not only nutrition but also some interest for over wintered indoor stock of all kinds and if you have a patch of land that is not doing anything, it will produce a surprisingly large crop of these impressive roots.

Stockists of Mangelwurzels sometimes describe them as fodder beet and there are not many seed companies doing small quantities (though several companies do acre type quantities) We found Thomas Etty but you know of any other seed companies do let us know.

MANGOLD WURZEL (from Thomas Etty's catalogue) Yellow Eckendorf. By 1893. A variety much prized by wine makers, &, (we are informed), those who keep Horses, Ponies, & Goats Standard 250 seeds £1.85p ** Mammoth Red. By 1869. “A mammoth growing variety, which gives great bulk.” Standard 250 seeds £1.85p