When to Plant Beet Seeds
Beets like to be planted in cooler weather, but when the soil is above 40 degrees F. If youâ€™re in many of the southern states, you can grow beets all winter long. Beets can be planted relatively early in the season, as soon as soil can be worked or approximately 4 weeks after the last hard frost.
Where to Plant Beet Seeds
Direct sow beets or start indoors and transplant. Being related to Swiss Chard and Spinach, beets should not be planted in close proximity or succession with these crops. The plot should be kept well weeded to discourage competition which can result in a less than peak harvest. Beets have a good tolerance for low fertility soil, and too much nitrogen can encourage top growth which will detract from root development.
How to Plant Beet Seeds
If you want a continuous harvest all season long, stagger your plantings about 3 weeks from each other so they will be ready to harvest at different points during the season. Seeds should be planted approximately 3/4 inches deep and 1 inch apart in rows of approximately 12-18 inch spacing. After germination when seedlings are approximately 4-5 inches tall, seedlings will need to be thinned, depending on your desired harvest. For early harvesting of small, cylindrical roots, thin to 3-4 inches apart. For later harvests of larger roots thin to 6+ inch spacing. Take care when thinning to not disturb the nearby developing roots.
How to Harvest Beets
The best color and flavor for beets develops under cool conditions and bright sun. Beets can be harvested when they have reached the desired size, but approximately 65 days after planting beets will be the familiar 1.5 - 2 inches (depending on variety) that most gardeners want for cooking and preserving. With adequate moisture and space, beets will grow rapidly, but larger roots can be tough and fibrous. When harvesting, beets should be separated from their tops, leaving about 1 inch of stem on the root. Beet greens are also nutritious and delicious, but must be stored separately--greens stored intact with the root will continue to draw moisture from the root, and will result in a shriveled and flavorless root. You can also eat the greens! You can harvest the greens while the beetâ€™s roots are small and the plant is still young. Fresh beets can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, or preserved by canning, pickling or freezing.