How To Grow Beets
Scientific Name: Beta vulgaris
Light: Full Sun to part shade
Soil Type: Well drained, deep sandy loam
Soil Temperature: 40°+
ph Range: 6.0 – 7.0
Plant: March 1 – May 15 / July 15 – August 1
Planting Method: Seed
Germination (days): 5 – 12
Maturity (days): 70 – 75
Common Pests: Spinach Leaf Miner
Common Diseases: Leaf Spots
Versatility is a good description for beets. Beets are highly nutritious and promote cardiovascular health. The dark pigment provides antioxidants that offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke; lower cholesterol levels within the body and have anti-aging effects.
Beets come in many shapes round, long or cylindrical, colors, white, yellow, golden, red, black and stripped. and flavors. The dark red beet is known for its hardiness and sweet flavor. Golden beets are a bit less sweet and have a more mellow and less earthy flavor. Choosing which beet to plant is a personal preference.
Beets grow quickly and may survive cold temperatures which makes them a good choice for gardeners and an excellent long-season crop. The whole plant – roots and greens are edible.
Plant in early spring as soon as you can work the soil, till the garden bed deeply. Beets prefer loose soil (hard soil will stunt their growth), with good water drainage. Slow germination results if the soil is too cold so check soil temperature prior to planting seeds. Germination is approximately 5 to 12 days.
Beets are available in a six-pak but because the seeds germinate so readily, and because you’ll want to make successive plantings, there may be no real advantage to buying starter plants.
Beets prefer cooler climates so begin sowing seeds two to three weeks before the last expected frost. Sow directly in the ground as soon as the soil can be worked. March 1 – May 15 and for a fall crop July 15 – August 1.
Beets prefer a sunny location that receives at least six hours of sunlight. Taller vegetables can give beets protection from summer sun and wind.
Prepare trenches 4″ deep, 3″ wide and in rows at least 12″ apart. Add a layer of compost to the trench. For faster germination, soak beet seeds 24 hours before planting. Sow seeds 1 to 2 inches apart and cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Keep soil moist but not soggy until seedlings germinate and begin to emerge.
As the seedlings grow thin the plants to accommodate the roots as they grow larger – crowded roots will not develop properly. Eat the thinned plant leaves as you would spinach.
CARE & GROWING
Once your plants are well established mulch with compost to conserve water and prevent weed growth..
Water frequently and regularly, if the soil becomes too dry the beets will be dry, tough, and smaller.
Fertilizer, if your garden was well mulched and fertilized last year your beets won’t need additional fertilizer before you plant. Once the plants are well-established fertilizer may be added every three weeks. For sweet tasty roots use a low nitrogen fertilizer. For thick greens instead of roots use a balanced organic fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Weeding is essential for beets. Beets do not like competition so remove weeds carefully so as not to damage roots.
Fungal: leaf spot, downy & powdery mildew
Viral: alfalfa & beet mosaic, beet curly top disease
Beets mature after growing approximately 50 – 70 days, depending upon the area and climate conditions. Harvest when the shoulder of the beet protrudes through the soil, are still dark in color and have smooth surfaces. Harvesting may begin when beets are about 1″ wide and should be completed by the time they are 3″ wide before they become woody. Twist off the tops, if you cut them they will bleed.