Beets are a great summer root vegetable that can be used in different ways, and used throughout the fall and winter months if stored or preserved properly. Growing beets gives you both root and leafy greens to add to your diet, and they are easy enough for children to lend a hand. With so many different types of beets available to the home gardener, you just need to decide on one type that you prefer and get growing.
Use these tips for growing beets that you can use in salads, for food coloring, and enjoy the leafy greens well into winter.
Choosing a Variety
There are several different reasons for growing beets, the most common being for table beets that are sweet, red and crisp. If you want the same taste and crisp from beets, but are intrigued by the different colors that beets come in, you can try growing white, yellow and orange varieties. If you like the leaves, which make great salad additions, there are certain varieties that taste better than others. Once you know for what reason you want to grow beets for, you can look through the different varieties for characteristics that match what you are after.
When to Plant
Most beets have the same basic growing needs and preferences, and in general they prefer being grown in cooler climates. Early spring and early fall are the best times to sow the seeds that you have selected. Plant in intervals about two weeks apart to ensure that you always have beet plants growing even if all the initial seedlings do not prosper.
Seeds Or Transplants
Beet transplants are actually not that common in nurseries, so beet seeds might be your only option. Seeds give you a lot more variety though, so you are able to grow more of what you want rather than finding yourself limited to one or two types. Most beet seeds are provided in the form of pelleted packets or a seeded mixture for spreading, because beet seeds are so tiny.
Because beet seeds are so small, it is important that you plant them in very well tilled soil that has been sifted and resifted. You only need to plant the seeds about an inch deep and cover them lightly with soil. Soil should be conditioned with organic material that is well composted so that it is not too dense. Soil should be kept moist, but never allowed to get soggy or retain water, so make sure the garden bed is able to drain water well.
Harvesting Your Crop
Harvesting beets and beet greens happens at different times of the growing season. Greens can be picked whenever they are wanted, and large enough to pluck. Do not remove all the greens from a single plant, but pull a couple from each because the beet plant still needs to be able to provide for the root. The root is ready to be pulled out of the ground when it is at least an inch in diameter and nicely rounded. Use a small shovel to loosen the soil around the root and pull straight up out of the ground.