Have you ever tried home grow beetroot? You should definitely try to grow them as they taste amazing, don’t require much space, are healthy, and are easy to grow. It’s now the end of May and my beetroot is ready to harvest. As they are multi-sown I can just twist out the once’s that are ready and leave the others in to grow on a bit more. Let’s look at how you can grow more beetroot in the same space with less effort.
How To Grow Beetroot
Before we get into how to grow more beetroot let’s take a quick look at the general information on beetroots. Beetroot, also known as kroot originates from Southern Europe and stems from the Beta Vulgaris family. Most famous is the red beetroot but there are actually many more colors ranging from yellow, red stripes, and white. There are two types of beetroot, half long and (flat)round. We’ll get more into the varieties at the headline “varieties”. A fun fact is that beetroot seeds are actually always clusters. So sowing one seed can result in 3 or 4 plants.
When To Start beetroot
Now beetroot can be sown without protection from late March to early July (our last frost date is the 15th of May) but when starting them inside or protecting them with fleece you can start as early as the end of February resulting in a longer growth period.
I did notice a faster harvest when starting inside. This is mainly due to the germination time. Starting beetroot in perfect conditions results in the germination of about 4 days compared to 14 days.
How To Sow
Sowing beetroot can be done in two ways. They can be sown directly or sown in a seed or module tray and transplanted out once big enough. I prefer the latter.
How to sow directly
To sow beetroot directly, sow three to four seeds with roughly 20cm (8in) spacing in all directions, about 1-2cm (0,5in) deep.
How to sow in a module tray (more harvest)
Starting beetroot in a module tray results in more harvest with less effort. Grab a module tray a cell size of 4cm (1,5in), sow three to four seeds per cell, about 1cm deep. For your compost mix use 3 parts compost, 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part play sand. Once they germinate, thin them out to three to four plants per cell.
How To Transplant
If you start your beetroot in module trays you will need to transplant them. They can be translated as rather small, when the true leaves are about 2-3cm (1in) in length. (picture Seedlings ready for transplanting)
Use a dibber to create a hole and plop the clumps in with 20cm (8in) spacing in all directions.
You now have three to four beets growing where you would normally only grow one!
How To Care For Your Beetroot
Maintaining red beets starts before your seeds go into the ground. After all, they love nutrient-rich soil. Adding a layer of about 2.5cm (1in) of compost to your bed (or in your bed if you don’t use the no-dig method) each year will give the beets plenty of nutrition.
Besides nutrition, water is very important. Red beets like to be in the sun and therefore need a fair amount of water to grow well. Don’t spoil them too much tho, as a rule of thumb they require about 2,5cm (1in) of water each week.
When To Harvest Beetroot
Beetroot takes about 50 to 70 days to mature. Some varieties can even be harvested after 45 days. But usually, you can harvest the roots after about 2 months.
You harvest beetroot when the beet is the size between a golf ball and a tennis ball. Some varieties grow extra large but if you harvest them too late they can become a bit woody.
How To Harvest Beetroot
The best way to harvest beets is to twist them out of the ground. This breaks down the small roots and keeps the sand from sticking too much to the beet. With a twist and pull, you’ll have the beet right out of the ground without too much effort!
Because the beets are growing in a clump you are able to only harvest the ones that are ready and leave the other beets in to grow a bit more.
Red beets can be stored just fine in the drawer of your refrigerator. It is best to clean them well and cut off the leaves up to about 1cm above the beet. You can also remove the small tip of the beet.
Put them (dry) in a plastic bag with a seal and they will stay good for about 3 months. Check every few days if they still look good. If one begins to deteriorate, it is advisable to eat it or remove it to prevent them all from rotting.
You can also store beets in sand! If you have a storage container and put a layer of (play) sand or white sand in it, you can place the beets there. Make sure there is space between each beet. Once the first layer is in place, you can fill the tray with sand until all the beets are covered. Repeat this until all the beets are in the sand and this way they will stay good for months.
Fun Beetroot Varieties
The most common beetroot is of course the red variety like the Detroit 2. But there are many more to choose from, here are a few.
- White Detroit, A white sweet heirloom beetroot
- Chioggia, the red-white striped soft sweet tasting beauty
- Moulin Rouge, A deep magenta root with a rich flavor
Common Pests, Diseases and Growth Problems
Why do my beets stay small?
The most common issue I see with growers around me is growth issues. The plants stay rather small and the beets don’t form fully. Small red beets are actually often due to too little energy or too strong nutrition. Too little energy can come from a lack of sunlight but also from too little water.
Red beets like to stand in the sun and need a fair amount of water to grow well. In addition, red beets do not like rich compost such as semi-fresh cow manure. Make sure the soil is well-digested manure or compost that has been lying around for a while. It is best to spread out compost at the end of the year (November, December) so that it can compost a little over the winter.
Why are my beets bolting?
Bolting is usually the case when beetroots are sown too early into the year. Beetroot is actually a biannual and they form seed in their second year. But when sown too early they go straight into seed starting.
You can counter this by using a bolt-resistant variety or sow the variety you have at the correct time.