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Growing Beets

Beets tolerate frost and do best in the cooler areas of the country, but they will go to seed without making roots if the plants get too cold when young. Plant them as a winter crop in the southern parts of the country. In a hot climate, pay special attention to watering and mulching to give seedlings a chance to establish themselves. The roots become woody in very hot weather. Plant beets two to three weeks before the average date of last frost.

rows of planted beets
Plant beets in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart.

Beets thrive in well-worked, loose soil that is high in organic matter. They do not do well in a very acid soil, and they need a good supply of potassium. Beets are grown from seed clusters that are slightly smaller than a pea and contain several seeds in each. Plant the clusters an inch deep, directly in the garden, an inch apart in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. The seedlings may emerge over a period of time, giving you a group of seedlings of different sizes. Since several seedlings will emerge from each seed cluster, they must be thinned to 2 to 3 inches apart when the seedlings develop true leaves.

Harvesting Beets

Both the leaves and the root can be eaten. Eat thinned seedlings like spinach; they do not transplant well. It takes about 60 days for a beet to reach 11/2 inches in diameter, a popular size for cooking or pickling. They will quickly grow larger if they have plenty of water. Pull the beets up when they reach your desired size.

Types of Beets

Beet lovers have several colorful beet types to choose from. We've listed the different varieties of beets below.

  • Detroit Dark Red, harvest at 60 days, is a deep red, finely-grained sweet standard beet.
  • Golden, harvest at 55 days, has gold-colored skin and flesh.
  • Lutz Green Leaf, harvest at 80 days, is often grown as a fall crop; its red flesh has lighter zones.
  • Egyptian Flat, harvest at 50 days, is squat and early.
There are many ways to enjoy beets. Learn how to select and prepare beets in the next section.

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