Beets are not quite as cold tolerant as something like broccoli, but they can tolerate a light frost and they do like cool temperatures, so beets are generally grown in the spring or fall.
Beets are biennial. They will no flower until their roots have matured and they’ve had at least 1 month of cold temperatures.
Days to Harvest / Harvesting and Storing:
Harvesting Beets: You can start harvesting greens when they are a couple of inches tall. The greens are most tender before they reach 6". Beet roots are ready to harvest when they are approx. 1 ½ - 2" in diameter. Larger roots are tougher and more fibrous.
Harvest by tugging or digging. Leave at least 1" of the leaves on, to avoid bleeding during cooking.
Storing Beets: Beets are ideal root cellar vegetables and can be stored for 3-4 months at near freezing temperatures with high humidity (98 - 100 percent). Beets can also be canned, pickled or frozen.
- ‘Burpee Golden’ - Beautiful yellow-orange color, but more temperamental when growing.
- ‘Chioggia’ - Heirloom with concentric red and white circles
- ‘Detroit Dark Red’ - Great for fresh eating or canning and pickling.
- ‘Mini Ball’ - Individual sized beets. Great for containers.
Growing Beets in Containers:
The small varieties of beets, like ‘Mini Ball’ and ‘Baby Bal’, do especially well in containers.
Planting Beets and Growing Tips:
When to Plant Beets:
- Spring: Wait until the soil has warmed and dried out. A soil temperature of 50 degrees F. (10 degrees C.) is ideal. Beets can be planted in succession every 3 weeks, for a longer harvest.
- Fall: Beet seeding can begin again once nighttime temperatures begin cooling off. Be sure you leave about 1 month before your first expected frost, from you last seeding.
Planting Beets: Beets don't transplant well and are always planted from seed. The beet seed in packets is really clumps of 4-6 seeds. You can plant the whole clump and thin and use the greens when they get a few inches tall or you try and separate the clumps into individual seeds before planting. The safest way to do this is to gently run a rolling pin over the clumps. Be careful not to crush the seeds. Personally, I find it easier to simply thin the young greens.
Beet seeds can be slow to germinate, because of their tough outer shell. Soaking the seed clusters over night will help soften the shell and speed germination. You can always use the old trick of planting fast sprouting radishes in the same row as your beets. It helps mark the row and loosen the soil. By the time the beets start to develop, the radishes are ready to be pulled.
Another germination trick is to cover the seed in the garden with vermiculite, peat moss or some other non-crusting material. This will keep the seed moist and warm, but not inhibit it from breaking through the surface. This trick is very useful in gardens with less than ideal soil.
Beets grow with a portion of the root above ground, so seeds do not need to be planted deeply. 1/2" to 1" deep is sufficient, planting deeper as the temperature warms.
Beets are planted only about 2-3" apart. That's all the space the roots need and when the leaves start growing together, they provide a cooling mulch for the roots. You can plant in rows, wide rows or blocks. It's easiest to simply broadcast the seed and thin to the recommended spacing. All thinnings can be eaten.