Get Scrumptious, Colorful Roots and Healthful Harvest
Subspecies: Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
Beets can be planted throughout the spring and summer for harvest well into late fall. They can be grown year round in some regions, will tolerate frost, and the greens can be grown in cold weather even in the northeastern Unites States.
Growing beets serve double duty, as their leaves can be used as greens and the bulbs make a sweet, flavor rich root vegetable. Read on for our full guide on how to grow beets in your own garden.
Beets should be grown in well drained sandy soil in an area that receives full sun with partial shade. Soil should be well aerated and high in organic matter, although they can grow in soil with low fertility. Soil must be kept moist, beets cannot grow in dry soil.
Beets should be propagated by seed. Seeds will germinate reliably in soil temperatures of 50°-80°F. Seeds may germinate as much as 10° on either side of this range, but with lower yields.
Plants will emerge within one week, but may take up to three weeks in cooler soil.
Beets should be planted as soon as soil is workable. Plant seeds 1” apart and 3/4” deep in rows that are 12-18” apart. To harvest until fall, plant beets every 2-3 weeks until the middle of your summer season. Beets can be planted up until 10 weeks before first freeze if you are planting for winter storage.
6” spacing should be used when planting for winter storage.
Thin seedlings when they reach 4 – 5 inches tall. The tender greens from the thinning are sweet and make excellent salad greens. Seedlings should be cut from the ground rather than pulled, so that roots of neighboring plants are not disturbed. Beets can be started indoors, in unheated greenhouses or in cold frames and the transplants moved into the garden.
Some type of row cover that allows air to move through should be used to keep insects from eating greens early in the season.
Beets need to be weeded and watered evenly to thrive.
If you are experiencing top-growth that is over proportional to root growth, there is too much nitrogen in the soil.
The color and sugar in beets are at their deepest and highest levels if the beets receive bright sun and cool average temperatures. Thus, spring and fall beets are the most flavorful.
Gold, Touchstone and Touchstone Gold are varieties that produce reddish orange beets with gold flesh inside the root. They have a mild sweet taste and the greens also have a mild flavor. Merlin and Red Ace are varieties that produce traditional, and more uniform red beets. They both perform well in successive plantings.
Leafminers can be managed with row covers or netting. Damaged leaves should be removed and destroyed.
Beets are susceptible to diseases of the leaf and root if not kept well aerated and drained. Avoid overcrowding of plants to make sure that leaves have room to dry and that roots do not become water-logged.
Freshly harvested greens will keep for 2-3 days in a plastic bag or air-tight container. Beats can be canned or pickled. Cooked beets can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 10 months. Borscht, a deep red colored soup originating in Eastern European countries is perhaps the most famous beet dish. Borscht can be prepared and frozen in freezer bags or air tight container for reheating throughout the winter. Alternatively, beets may also be blended or pureed after cooking and frozen for future soup making.