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Beet - Beta vulgaris



Beets thrive in almost any climate, but where the summers are hot (Zones 8 and warmer), grow them as a fall, late winter, or early spring crop

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Full sun, but can tolerate partial shade

Light, sandy, loam, well-drained, free of stones. Prefers pH 6.0 to 6.8

Regular water, keep soil evenly moist, but not wet

Plant 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) apart in rows 12 to 30 inches (30 to 75 cm) apart


Harvest greens as soon as they are large enough for use.

Harvest beets when they are 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more in diameter

Comments: Beets are best known for their firm roots which are sweet-tasting, but their leaves are also eaten as greens because they are tender and quite nutritious. Close relatives of beets are mangles and sugar beets which are grown for livestock forage and sugar production.

Planting Site: Beets perform best in full sun, but they can tolerate partial shade.

Beet Planting & Growing Guidelines: Plant beets in the early spring, about 1 month before the last spring frost, and as soon as you can work the soil. If soil is heavy or shallow, grow only round cultivars, because the long-rooted varieties may be deformed or tough at maturity. To avoid this, improve your soil with lots of organic matter, or use raised beds. Beet seeds are compound, meaning that each "seed" can actually contain up to six seeds. This however, doesn't improve germination; in fact, beets are known for spotty germination, so you may want to sow moderately heavily to assure a full crop. Optimum germination happens when the soil temperature reaches 80° F (27° C) but you can plant as soon as the soil warms to 45° F (7.2° C) and the air temperature is 50° to 65° F (10° to 18° C). To also help with germination, first soak the seed in tepid water for 2 to 3 hours.

Plant 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) deep, 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) apart in rows 12 to 30 inches (30 to 75 cm) apart. Because of the compound seed, most beets produce a cluster of seedlings, so you'll need to thin these when they are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 10 cm) tall. Thinned beets may be used as salad greens. Beets tend to become woody and tasteless when left in the ground too long, so you are better off sowing small monthly crops which will give you a steady supply of sweet beets. Beets need regular water to keep them tender and to prevent any interior discoloration that results from uneven soil moisture.

  • Helpful Articles: Use Soil Temperature For Remarkable Vegetable Planting Results

    Fertilizing: All root crops benefit from some high-phosphorus fertilizer being added into the soil at planting time. Apply 1 quart (1 l) to every 100 square feet (10 square meters) using an 8-16-16 or a 6-8-8 or anything similar to those ratios that is being sold as superphosphate fertilizer. Work into the top 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of soil. Beets won't need to be fertilized or side-dressed again.

    Pest and Disease Prevention: Row covers will help deter flea beetles and leaf miners. Discourage leaf spot disease by not growing beets where they or their relatives, such as spinach or chard, have been grown the previous year.

  • Helpful Articles: Heavyweight Row Covers

    Common Problems: Beets do poorly in hot weather and dry soil. If you have scorching hot summers, grow beets in the cool seasons, including during the winter in mild-climate areas.

    Days to Maturity: 55 to 70 days.

    Harvest and Storage: Harvest greens as soon as they are large enough for use. Harvest beets when they are 1 inch (2.5 cm) are larger in diameter. Check by gently probing the soil at the plant's base, and pull them out carefully to avoid bruising. Pull beets for storage before hard frost begins, and when removing the tops, leave 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the stem attached to the roots to prevent bleeding. Refrigerate for several weeks, or layer in a box filled with sand, sawdust, or peat and store in a cool area for two to five months. Beets may also be canned or pickled.

    Special Tips: Grow small-rooted cultivars such as those bred as "baby beets" in a cluster without thinning. Plant two or three seeds together, each cluster 6 inches (15 cm) apart, and harvest when beets are eating size.

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