Growing Beets

Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Beets

Beets
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Our Growing Guide to Beets covers planting, growing, and harvesting! A staple in our garden, beets grow easily and you won’t have to wait long until harvest time. They can be harvested from about the size of a golf ball to the size of a tennis ball. And the greens are edible, too!

Beets or “beet root” are a cool-season vegetable that is easy to grow from seed in well-prepared soil—and grows quickly.

If you are a beginner, look out for bolt-resistant varieties. But there are many different varieties which showcase deep red, yellow, or white bulbs of different shapes.

Beets can survive frost and almost freezing temperatures, which makes them a great choice for northern gardeners and an excellent long-season crop.

 

 

 

Planting

When to Plant Beets

  • Depending on your climate, an early crop may be planted in mid-spring (March/April) until mid-summer.
  • In areas with hot summers, you can plant a late crop anytime from June to September.
  • Successive plantings are also possible as long as the weather doesn’t exceed 75°F. Space plantings about 20 days apart.
  • You need to wait until soil reaches a minimum of 50°F before sowing or planting outdoors.
  • Winter crops are a definite possibility in Zone 9 and warmer.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • Beets prefer well-prepared, fertile soil in a sunny location. Till in aged manure before planting. 
  • A soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is best, but slightly alkaline (7.0+) soils can be tolerated.
  • Beets require especially good nutrition and a high phosphorus level to germinate. Go easy on nitrogen, however, as an excess will cause sprawling greens and tiny bulbs beneath the soil. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.

How to Plant Beets

  • We prefer to start beets directly in the garden so that we don’t have to disturb their roots. However, in areas with long winters, they can be started indoors and transplanted when their foliage reaches about 2 inches in height. 
  • Sow seeds ½-inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are about 1 foot apart.
  • After sowing, cover the seeds with the soil and tap it down with your hand or rake. Label your rows.
  • Make sure soil remains moist for germination.
    • Tip: In areas with low moisture and rainfall, soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting.

Care

How to Grow Beets

  • Thinning is necessary, as you may get more than one seedling out of each seed. Thin when they reach about 2 inches high by pinching them off. Pulling them out of the ground may disturb the roots of nearby seedlings.
  • Established plants should be thinned to 3-4 inches between plants.
  • Mulch and water well. Beets need to maintain plenty of moisture.
  • Any necessary cultivation should be gentle; beets have shallow roots that are easily disturbed.

Pests/Diseases

Harvest/Storage

How to Harvest Beets

  • Days to maturity tend to be between 50 and 70 for most varieties, although they can be harvested at any time you see fit. If you like larger bulbs, wait longer, but understand they will be tougher and woody.
  • Loosen the soil around the beet and gently pull it from the earth.
  • Don’t forget about the tops! Beet greens have a delicious and distinctive flavor, and hold more nutrition than the roots.

How to Store Beets

  • Fresh beets can be stored in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Clipping the tops off beets will keep them fresher for longer. Leave about one inch of stem on each beet, and store the greens separately.
  • For root cellar type storage, make sure you brush off any soil clinging to these crops, then store them in a cool, dry place. An unheated closet might do, or put them in a cooler in your basement.
  • Beets can be frozen, canned, and pickled.
  • Read more about a new way to store beets in the root cellar.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

The humble beet, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, borscht’ed—but especially served raw—has emerged as a nutrient-dense food considered especially beneficial for health. Learn more in “Beets: Health Benefits!”

For other greens to use in your cuisine, see the Leafy Greens: Health Benefits page, as well as How to Grow Your Own Salad Greens.

Recipes

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Growing Beets

Botanical Name Beta vulgaris
Plant Type Vegetable
Sun Exposure Full Sun, Part Sun
Soil Type Loamy, Sandy
Soil pH Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Bloom Time
Flower Color
Hardiness Zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Special Features