Growing Beets From Seed
Growing beets from seed is a fun and colorful way to diversify your diet. Beets are a versatile vegetable whose root part and leaves can be eaten. Beets are high in vitamin C. They have numerous culinary uses and can be pickled and used in salads, roasted and served on their own or with other root vegetables, and they can be made into delicious beet soup.
Getting Started with Beets
There are many different varieties of beets available, including heirloom varieties. While newer varieties have been bred for more consistency in size, yield, and disease resistance, many growers swear by heirloom varieties as the most flavorful. Besides the more common red varieties of beets, there are golden and variegated beet types available. Some good heirloom types to try are “Detroit Dark Red”, a traditional red, and “Chiogga”, a variegated type.
Beets are typically sold as seed by commercial garden centers and plant sellers. They grow quickly and are easy to grow from seed.
Growing Conditions for Beets
Beets are a cool weather crop, but they do well in hot temperatures too. Beets grow best in full-sun conditions, 8-12 hours of sun exposure daily. The soil should be well drained and fertile. Beets may be planted directly in the ground or in containers. If you plant beets in a container, consider the type of beet when you’re selecting a container. You will need a deeper vessel for beet varieties that are cylindrical rather than globe-shaped.
Planting Beets From Seed
Beets grow easily from seed. You may sow the seeds directly into the ground in the early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Oftentimes, beet seeds are sold in pellets that contain several seeds, making planting easier. The seed pellets should be planted 1 inch apart, 1 inch deep. For ease of cultivating and harvesting your beet crop, leave 18 inches of space between rows. Water in lightly after planting. It is advisable to apply a light layer of mulch over the beet crop after planting to help keep the roots cool during hot summer temperatures.
- Beet Recipes: Cooking With Beets : Recipes and Cooking : Food Network
Try new ways of preparing beets with beet recipes and more from your favorite Food Network chefs.
Growing Beets From Seed
Beet seeds will typically begin to sprout within 5-14 days of being sown. In the early stage of growth, your main task will be to make sure that they stay well watered and that the soil is allowed to dry between watering. Do not let the seedlings wilt.
When the seedlings are approximately 3 inches tall, thin out (remove) seedlings so that they are about 3 inches apart. If you allow all of the seeds you planted to grow, the plants will eventually crowd each other out, resulting in a failure of the crop.
Beets are very disease and pest resistant, making them an attractive crop. They do not require much feeding, and a good mid-season application of mulch should provide adequate nutrition for the season.
Depending on the variety of the beet you decide to grow, your beet crop may be ready to harvest anywhere from 45 to 60 days after sowing. Later maturing beet varieties can be harvested early as “baby” vegetables. Beets tend to be sweeter the earlier they are harvested. Generally, when the roots reach 1 to 3 inches in diameter, they are ready for harvest. Do not discard the beet leaves, they are edible and make a tasty addition to salads or can be enjoyed sautéed on their own.