How to Grow Beets

Packed with antioxidants, these colorful root vegetables are making a healthy addition to plates and plots.

Materials Needed

  • beet seeds
  • well-rotted garden compost or manure
  • garden shovel
  • watering can
  • insecticide (optional)

Step 1: Sow Seeds

Sow Pre Soaked Beet Seeds into Patio Planter

Sow Pre Soaked Beet Seeds into Patio Planter

Soak beet seeds in water for 24 hours before planting to aid germination. Beets prefer cool weather. For an early summer crop, sow seeds in a sunny spot, 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet seeds are covered in chemicals that prevent them from germinating, which should be removed by soaking them for an hour prior to sowing. Sow outdoors in patio planters in early spring, 1-inch deep, 4 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. Cover the planted seeds with 1 inch of compost, and water them in well.

Step 2: Keep Compost Moist

Beet Seedlings Germinate in About One Week

Beet Seedlings Germinate in About One Week

Thin beet seedlings so they are about 3 inches apart in the row once they germinate, usually within seven days of planting. Pick out the unneeded seedlings and use as greens or sprouts in sandwiches or salads.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet seeds germinate about a week after sowing. Keep the compost moist, and site the container in a sunny location. Protect against aphids, which suck sap, weakening the plants and slowing growth. Spray heavy infestations with a suitable insecticide. Leaf-mining fly larvae can also cause problems by feeding within the foliage, causing brown blotches. Remove infested leaves since there are no chemical controls available.

Step 3: Harvest Crops

Harvest Some Beet Varieties After 6 to 8 Weeks

Harvest Some Beet Varieties After 6 to 8 Weeks

Beets can be harvested whenever they grow to the desired size. About 60 days are required for beets to reach the size often used for cooking, pickling or canning as whole beets. Beets enlarge rapidly to 3 inches with adequate moisture and space.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Depending on variety, harvest after 6-8 weeks, and resow a second or third crop. Water regularly during the summer to prevent them from bolting (running to seed). Weed around them carefully by hand — a nick on the roots with a trowel or hoe will damage them and cause them to bleed. For the best flavor, pull roots when they are golf-ball sized, first loosening the soil with a hand fork. As an extra crop, you can also harvest the young leaves, but pick sparingly to avoid checking growth.

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