Growing beets in your garden
- 10+ beet seed varieties
- Cool season vegetable that can survive frost and almost freezing temperatures
- Benefit from both the roots and the greens
- Prefers full sun
Beetroot, more commonly referred to in North America as simply "beets", are entirely edible vegetables, from roots to leaves. Beets go far back in popularity. They were first domesticated in ancient Middle East, and grown by the Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Since the Middle Ages, beetroot has been used as a treatment by some for various ailments relating to digestion and blood. Beetroot is also used as a natural dye, as it leaves a strong stain. It was even used to color wine in the 19th century.
beets in the culinary world
Beetroots can be prepared in a variety of ways. Boiling, roasting, steaming, and even juicing, are all popular preparations of beets. In Eastern Europe, borscht- a beet soup, is very common. Ukraine and Poland combine beets and horseradish to make burachky, which is often used in sandwiches, or with meat and potatoes. Indian cuisine uses spiced beet as popular side dish.
growing beets: tips and tricks
When planting beets in your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind for success. Because they are related to swiss chard and spinach, beets should not be planted in close proximity to these crops. Plots should be kept well-weeded to discourage competition. Another thing to consider when selecting a location is that beets have a good tolerance for low fertility soil. In fact, too much nitrogen can encourage top growth which will detract from root growth.
For continuous harvest, stagger your plantings about three weeks apart. Plant seeds approximately 3/4 inches deep and one inch apart in rows with 12 to 18 inch spacing. Once germination is complete and seedlings are around four to five inches tall, seedlings may need to be thinned. For early harvesting of small, cylindrical roots, thin to three to four inches apart. If you desire larger roots and a later harvest, thin to six plus inches of spacing. The best flavor and coloring for beets will develop under cool conditions and bright sun. Typically they are harvested approximately 65 days after planting when they will be between one and a half to two inches.
For more information about planting, growing, and caring for beets, see our Beet Seeds Planting Guide.