How To Grow Beets
Plant Type: Annual
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 (Payson): 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, colors and flavors. There shape may be round, long or cylindrical. Colors range from white, yellow, golden, red, black and stripped. The dark red beet that most of us think of when someone mentions beets 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.
This root veggie grows quickly and has many different varieties to choose from. They can survive frost and almost freezing temperatures, which makes them a good choice for gardeners and an excellent long-season crop. The whole plant – roots and greens are edible.
In early spring as soon as you can work to soil, till the garden bed deeply. Beets like loose soil (hard soil will stunt their growth), that has good water drainage. Beets can grow in soil that has a wide range of ph 6.0 to 7.0 . They may not germinate well if the soil is too cold so check your soil temperature when you are ready to plant. 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. For our area March 1 – May 15 and for a fall crop July 15 – August 1.
Beets, like other root crops, prefer a sunny location that receives at least six hours of sunlight. In the heat of summer they like some afternoon shade, so they will do well planted next to taller veggies that can give them protection from the 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 you will need to thin the plants to accommodate the roots as they grow larger – crowded roots will not develop properly. Use the thinned plants like 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 than they should be.
When it comes to 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. If you want sweet tasty roots use a low nitrogen fertilizer. If you want 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 be diligent about weeding and remove weeds carefully so as not to damage roots.
Leaf Hoppers, Flea Beetle, Leaf Miners, Aphids and Mexican Bean Beetles.
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.
If protected from severe frost, beets planted at the end of summer can winter over. Harvest beets before the plant blooms and goes to seed in the spring.
Beet leaves are delicious in salads, steamed or creamed and the roots are great with butter melting over them. Remove tops and place in air tight container in the refrigerator. Preserve by pickling with onion or freezing.
To aid in your gardening success, here are some useful, trusted links for more information on tomatoes. Please remember Payson Community Garden is an organic garden. Some of these sites may contain recommendations for non-organic products. Please see this website or Plant Fair Nursery website for a list of recommended products that meet the organic standards of Payson Community Garden.