Fun Fact: Beet seeds are actually tiny clusters of several seeds. Each seed cluster will grow 3-4 seedlings.
How To Grow Beets, Step by Step
Beets don't transplant well, as is the case with most root crops. Always sow seeds in the garden, unless you are growing them just for the greens.
- Sow seeds outdoors as soon as the soil is workable, 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost.
- As long as the daytime temperatures are below 75F, you can do successive plantings every 2-3 weeks.
- Choose a spot in the garden with full sun and loose, well-draining soil.
- Be sure there are no rocks or other obstacles in the ground that will prevent the roots from developing.
- Plant seeds 1/2” deep, spaced 1-2” apart in rows 1' apart.
- Lightly cover the seeds with soil.
- Beets take 5-6 days to germinate in warm soil and up to 3 weeks to grow in cool soil; be patient, and don't worry if you don't see them right away.
- When the seedlings are 4-5" tall, thin them to 4-5" apart, so they all have adequate space to grow. Tip: Don't pull up the seedlings you're thinning; this can disturb the roots of the ones that are staying. Instead, use scissors to cut the seedling at the base. Don't toss them aside either – these thinned seedlings are excellent little sprouts for a salad!
- Water beets so they receive approximately 1” of water per week.
- Weed carefully so as not to disturb the shallow beetroots. Cut weeds at the base, using the same method as when you thinned the plants.
- Beets are ready for harvest 55-70 days after planting. You can actually harvest them before they are mature, for sweet baby beets.
- Greens can be harvested anytime after the plants are 5-6” tall. Don't take all the greens off one plant, though. In order for the roots to develop, they need their leafy tops. But, you can harvest a few leaves off each plant while they grow.
- Don't leave beets in the ground for too long after they're mature, though, because the roots will begin to get woody and tough.
Planting Beets in Fall
- Sow beet seeds outdoors 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the sowing directions above for spacing and care of your beet seedlings.
- Beets develop a sweeter flavor after one or two light frosts. Be sure to harvest before the ground freezes solid, though.
Check Out These Tasty Beet Varieties
- Bull's Blood Heirloom Beets - Deep red, roots and stems, with a sweet, tender flavor.
- Detroit Dark Red - An heirloom from the 1800's that produces beautifully round, sweet beets. The best choice for canning or pickling.
- Chioggia - It looks like the typical red beet on the outside, but when you slice it open, it reveals stunning concentric white and pink circles. Mild and sweet flavor.