How to Grow Beets: A Beginner’s Guide

So, you’re wondering how to grow beets. Awesome! If you’re looking for a versatile and easy-to-grow vegetable to add to your garden, beets are an excellent choice.

These root vegetables are packed with nutrients and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to roasted side dishes.

One of my earliest memories is eating pickled beets straight out of the canning jar in my Grandmother’s neighbor’s root cellar.

Growing beets is a straightforward process that can yield a bountiful harvest with just a little bit of effort.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, growing beets is a great way to add fresh, healthy produce to your diet.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to grow beets successfully, from selecting the right site and soil to planting, caring for, and harvesting your crop.

With our tips and tricks, you’ll be enjoying delicious, homegrown beets in no time.

Beet Growing Guide

AttributeBeets
Planting MonthsMarch to May (spring), August to September (fall)
Harvest MonthsJune to October
Temperature50 – 85 F
Planting Depth1/2 inch
Spacing3-4 inches apart, rows 12-18 inches apart
Sunlight6 hours per day (minimum)
DirectionSouth or Southeast
DrainageGood Drainage
pH LevelSlightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.0)
Companion PlantsOnions, lettuce, cabbage, marigolds, and radishes
Health BenefitsAntioxidants, fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, manganese, and folate. Supports liver health and blood pressure regulation

Choosing and Preparing the Soil

Soil Preparation

Before planting beets, it is important to prepare the soil properly.

Beets grow best in well-drained soil with a pH level of 6.0 or higher. Here are some steps to prepare the soil for planting:

  • Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches.
  • Mix in a 2 to 4-inch layer of compost to improve soil fertility and drainage.
  • Remove any rocks, weeds, or other debris from the soil.

Once the soil is prepared, it is time to plant the beets.

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Choosing the Right Soil Type

Beets prefer a light soil with good drainage, so it is important to choose the right soil type for planting. Here are some tips to help you choose the right soil type:

Soil TypeDescription
Sandy SoilLight and well-drained, but low in nutrients. Mix in compost to improve fertility.
Loamy SoilA mixture of sand, silt, and clay that is ideal for growing beets. It is well-drained and retains moisture and nutrients.
Clay SoilHeavy and poorly-drained, but high in nutrients. Mix in sand and compost to improve drainage and fertility.

By choosing the right soil type and preparing it properly, you can ensure that your beets have the best chance of growing healthy and strong.

Planting Beets

Planting Time

Beets should be planted in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the last average frost date in spring.

The soil temperature should be at least 50°F (10°C), especially if you have heavy soil. If you live in a warmer climate, you can plant beets in the fall for a late-season crop.

Seed Selection

When selecting beet seeds, look for healthy seeds that are free of cracks or other damage.

Each beet seed is actually a hard little cluster of 2 to 4 seeds.

Choose seeds that are uniform in size and shape for best results.

Seed Spacing and Depth

Sow beet seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Thin seedlings to 3 inches apart. If you are planting in rows, space the rows 12 to 18 inches apart.

planting beet seeds
Planting beet seeds

Beets prefer well-draining soil, so make sure to prepare the soil by loosening it to a depth of at least 12 inches before planting.

Watering

Beets need consistent moisture to grow well, so make sure to water them regularly. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as overly wet soil can cause the roots to rot.

Mulching around the plants can help retain soil moisture and keep the roots cool during hot weather.

Caring for Beets

Fertilizing

Beets need a steady supply of nutrients to grow well. Before planting, mix in some compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to provide a slow-release source of nutrients.

During the growing season, side-dress the plants with a balanced fertilizer every 3-4 weeks to keep them healthy and productive.

Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can encourage leafy growth at the expense of root development.

Thinning

Once the beet seedlings have emerged, thin them to ensure proper spacing. Crowded plants will produce small, misshapen roots.

Thin the plants to 2-4 inches apart, depending on the variety. Use the thinnings in salads or as microgreens.

As the plants grow, thin them again to maintain proper spacing. Use a pair of scissors to snip off the tops of the unwanted plants at soil level.

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This will minimize root disturbance and prevent damage to the remaining plants.

Mulching

Beets benefit from a layer of organic mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Apply a layer of straw, leaves, or grass clippings around the plants, being careful not to cover the crowns.

Mulching will also help regulate soil temperature and prevent soil from splashing onto the leaves, which can lead to disease.

Pest Control

Beets are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still be attacked by a few common garden pests.

Flea beetles can cause small holes in the leaves, while aphids can suck sap from the plants. To control flea beetles, cover the plants with lightweight row covers until they are established. For aphids, spray the plants with a strong stream of water or apply insecticidal soap.

Handpick any larger pests, such as slugs or caterpillars, and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.

Harvesting and Storing Beets

Harvesting Time

Beets are ready for harvest approximately 50 to 70 days after planting.

The size of the beet can vary depending on the variety, but it is generally recommended to harvest when the root is around 1 to 3 inches in diameter.

Some varieties may be harvested when they are slightly larger.

Harvesting Techniques

When harvesting beets, it is essential to be gentle to avoid damaging the roots.

To harvest, gently loosen the soil around the beet with a garden fork or trowel, and then lift the beet from the ground.

harvesting beets
Harvesting beets

It is important not to pull the beet out of the ground forcefully as this can damage the roots.

Cut off the leaves from the beet, leaving around an inch of the stem attached to the root.

Storing Beets

Before storing beets, gently rub off any soil from the roots.

Do not wash the roots before storing them. If you do, be sure to dry them thoroughly.

Store beets in a cold, moist place as near to freezing as possible without actual freezing, at a temperature between 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity.

Beets can be stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

To extend the storage life of beets, it is possible to store them in a root cellar, which should have a temperature between 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity.

Beets can be stored in a root cellar for up to 6 months. It is important to check the beets regularly for any signs of rotting or decay.

Remove any spoiled beets immediately to prevent them from spoiling the others.

When stored for long periods, beets may begin to sprout.

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The sprouts are edible and can be used in salads or cooked like beet greens. To prevent sprouting, store beets in a dark, cool place.

How to Grow Beets FAQs

When is the best time to plant beet seeds?

Beets can be planted in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable and has reached a temperature of around 50°F (10°C). You can also plant beets in late summer or early fall for a second harvest before winter.

How do I choose the right beet variety?

Consider factors such as your local climate, desired size, color, and shape, as well as your taste preferences when selecting a beet variety. Popular beet varieties include Detroit Dark Red, Golden, and Chioggia.

How should I prepare the soil for planting beets?

Beets prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 10-12 inches and mix in compost or other organic matter to improve fertility and drainage.

How deep and far apart should I plant beet seeds?

Plant beet seeds about ½ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart, with rows about 12-18 inches apart. Once the seedlings emerge, thin them to a spacing of 3-4 inches to allow for proper growth.

How often should I water my beet plants?

Beets require consistent moisture to grow well. Aim to water them about 1 inch per week, and adjust based on rainfall and soil moisture levels.

How can I protect my beet plants from pests and diseases?

Practice crop rotation, proper sanitation, and good garden hygiene to minimize the risk of pests and diseases. Use organic or chemical treatments as needed to manage any issues that arise.

When is the best time to harvest beets?

Beets can be harvested when the roots reach the desired size, typically between 1.5-3 inches in diameter. Smaller beets tend to be more tender and sweet. To harvest, gently loosen the soil and lift the beetroot out.

Can I eat beet greens?

Yes, beet greens are edible and highly nutritious. You can harvest beet greens as the plants grow, but be sure not to remove too many leaves, as the plant needs them for photosynthesis and root development.

Wrapping Up

Growing beets is a gratifying experience that adds a splash of color and flavor to your garden, your kitchen, and your life.

As we’ve explored, the journey to a bountiful beet harvest involves careful preparation, dedicated care, and a touch of patience, but the results are truly worth it.

Picture yourself proudly showcasing a bowl of gorgeous beets, fresh from your garden, at your next family gathering or dinner party.

Not only will you dazzle your guests with the earthy, sweet flavors of your homegrown beets, but you’ll also be providing them with a nutritious, vitamin-packed treat.

From mouthwatering beet salads to velvety borscht, your culinary creations will be elevated by the addition of your homegrown beets.

Growing beets also contributes to a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle, as you’ll reduce your reliance on store-bought produce and lower your carbon footprint.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to share your beet-growing wisdom, and perhaps even some of your harvest, with friends and family, inspiring them to join you in this delightful gardening journey.

So, grab your gardening gloves, gather your beet seeds, and get ready to embark on the colorful and rewarding adventure of growing beets.

As your beets flourish in your garden, you’ll find yourself not only appreciating their beauty and taste but also reveling in the wonders of gardening.

Happy planting, and may your beet garden be bountiful and thriving!