Beets! A Guide on How-To: Plant, Maintain & Harvest - gardenstead Skip to content

Beets! A Guide on How-To: Plant, Maintain & Harvest

Whether it be summer, spring or fall (or even winter if planted in a coldframe!) beets are tolerant of both hot and cool weather. Plant them early in the spring season or late into the summer for a fall or early winter harvest. The best thing about beets is that you can eat the entire plant! From the beetroot itself all the way to the leaves. Beets can be grown in-ground, or in raised beds or even containers.

Stage One: Planting

Soil Requirements

  • Loose and aerated soil is best for healthy root development so they aren’t restricted to grow in any direction and can develop a full, spherical beet shape
  • Adding an inch or more of compost or manure will help their growth

Sowing & Thinning

  • Best directly sown in-ground, so you can plant once the soil is workable
  • Plant seeds approximately ½ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart from each other
  • Beet seeds often germinate between 5 days to two weeks (if the soil is really chilly it can take longer)
  • Once your seedlings are about two inches tall, you can thin them.
  • Thin by pinching off or snipping at the soil line, rather than pulling the plant out from the ground (this will avoid disrupting the growth of any nearby roots of other seedlings)
Stage Two: Care and Maintenance

Watering

  • Water frequently so the roots will be tender and tasteful
  • Good soil drainage is key to watering, as you don’t want your beets to get waterlogged

Companion Planting

  • Bush beans and lettuce are two of the most excellent plant companions for beets. If you’re new to companion planting, here is our full guide.

Nutrient Requirements

  • Two things that beets absolutely need to thrive is: Nitrogen & Phosphorus! Once a beet plant has grown leafy greens, it uses the excess energy and nutrients towards growing the beetroot
  • Yellowing leaves indicate nitrogen deficiency. To recover your beets, spray foliage and drench their roots with fish emulsion (we use fish emulsion or compost tea in our whole vegetable garden!)

Pests

  • A pest that targets beets often are aphids. If you have an aphid infestation you’ll notice your plant’s growth is stunted with yellowing and curly leaves. To combat these bugs, spray your plants with water, with as much pressure as the plant can handle (without ripping the leaves, etc.)
  • Using the method above, the aphids will fall off and not be able to get back up
  • If that doesn’t work, try spraying with soapy water spray
  • Next solution is: ladybugs which are very beneficial in the garden because they eat aphids!
  • Check your local garden center to see if they have ladybugs for sale
Stage Three: Harvesting
  • Beets reach maturity usually in 50-70 days from being sown (or more depending on their growing conditions)
  • They can be harvested at any time depending on your preference
  • Young, tender beets do tend to taste better so harvest early if you like a softer beetroot
  • Beet leaves are also edible and are actually more nutritious than their roots

For other fall gardening tips, read our article on Planning Your Fall Garden

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