Growing Beetroot - Tips
and advice on how to grow beetroot in your own
backyard. It's easy to grow, makes for great salad leaves as beetroot
leaves are edible and eaten raw in salads or steamed, and the beetroot
itself can be eaten both raw and cooked too. Don't just think about
is one of the most popular root crops, and is ideal to grow in your
backyard. Swiss chard,
and mangelwurzels also belong to the
and they readily cross with each
also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally
simply as beet.
Although beetroot growing is usually done for their roots, beetroot
leaves can be used as a spinach, and for hundreds of years this
was why they were grown. The baby beetroot leaves, when very young, can
picked and used in a salad.
Beetroot is a good source
of vitamin A
and are considered helpful
for building up the immune system. See
our page on juicing vegetables for some juicing
to plant vegetables
, as well as during the
month for planting
by the moon
Growing Beetroot - Climate
Beetroots are remarkably hardy. Beetroot like to be grown in at least
half-sun, and will tolerate light shade, but not heavy shade. In light
shade they will ripen a little slower than those beetroots that have
been planted in full sun. Where areas experience heavy frosts plant in
spring. Otherwise in temperate climates they can be planted from late
winter to mid-autumn. In warmer climes you can plant beetroot
throughout the year. Beetroots are not sensitive to heat, providing
they get enough water during the height of the summer. And again, they
are resistant to cold weather, although during this time their growth
will be slow.
you grow beetroot during hot, dry weather and on poor soil, they will
still look good above the ground, but below their roots will be small,
poor in color and in some cultivars they will have a white zone.
Beetroot should be grown near kohlrabi, onions and dwarf beans.
Do not grow beetroot near runner beans.
Growing Beetroot - Varieties
are many varieties of beetroot available. The traditional dark red
globe beets are still firm favorites with growers. The Derwent Globe
and Detroit Dark Red
varieties, while Rapid
are recommended for
fast growth and
Several globular varieties display unusual
concentric circles of pink or red with white, these include the Italian
For the more adventurous
there are both
golden and white varieties. Golden
, are known for their
non-bleeding qualities and the White
is said to be sweeter than
the standard red varieties. Both are globular shaped and produce tops
which can be harvested and cooked like spinach.
(56 days to harvest;
uniform, sweet, dark red roots; semi-globe to heart shaped; glossy,
bright green tops, excellent for greens)
Detroit Dark Red (58 days;
tender, round, dark red roots)
Early Wonder (52 days; flattened
globe shape; dark red, sweet and tender)
Lutz Green Leaf (70 days; an
heirloom winter-keeper type; purplish red exterior, deep red interior;
large, glossy green tops, excellent for greens; roots stay tender even
when large; stores extremely well)
Ruby Queen (60 days; AAS winner;
excellent quality; early; round, tender, sweet, fine-grained,
attractive, uniform roots)
Sangria (56 days; ideal globe
shape, even in crowded rows; deep red; good greens when young)
Sweetheart (58 days; extra-sweet,
round, tasty roots; tops good for greens)
are also available, their small size and early
making them favorites for many, especially if you are growing
vegetables in containers
and are short of
space. Two varieties of mini-beets to look out for are Gourmet Baby
for some really interesting beets that are cylindrical in shape is the
which is a dark red,
and the Sugar
which has a
Growing Beetroot - Soil Conditions
Beetroots like to be
soil that is loose, fairly sandy and which has been liberally sprinkled
with lime as they don't like an acidic soil.
1/2 cup of lime per square
meter is sufficient. If you are not sure, check the soil pH with a soil
testing kit which you can find at your local gardening center. However,
they will tolerate any soil conditions and will also grow well in clay
and particularly salty soils which they seem to like.
Planting beetroot in ground that has
been manured for a previous leaf crop such as cabbages or lettuce is
perfect for beetroot. To prepare the beds make sure that the bed has
been dug over to a depth of 10 cm.
are extremely sensitive to baron deficiency in soils, and therefore are
a good indicator of this. The indications are blackened areas
cracked roots and a generally withering
occurs. Using a seaweed
solution to bring up the pH levels in your soil to 6.0 - 7.0
Growing Beetroot from Seed
Beetroot growing from seed is more
successful than transplanting. However, if the transplanting is done
carefully they will survive and do well. It really is a hardy
vegetable, however, transplanting beetroot will result in retarding the
growth of the plant for some time before it recovers.
the seed in water overnight before
sowing. Sew beetroot seed sparingly; beetroot seed is unusually in that
it comprises a capsule containing around 3 seeds, thereby making it
easy to over sow. In the morning, sow
2 cm deep
at 10 cm
be spaced 15-25 cm apart
Cover the seeds with fine soil, and
press done gently making sure that the seeds make contact with the
soil. Water in gently with a fine spray. Keep the soil moist by
watering every day. During hot weather grass can be laid thinly over
the rows as a temporary mulch to prevent the soil from drying out and
crusting. Remove the grass immediately as soon as the seedlings begin
to emerge. Seeds should
within 10-14 days. They will
take 10-12 weeks to mature.
Growing Beetroot from Seedlings
you are growing beetroot to transplant out at a later stage the plants
can be moved to their permanent beds when they are 8 - 10 cm high, and
should be set out apart with 7.5
between the rows. If you trim
off the foliage
at this stage, this will help with the
out and cause the plant to grow better.
Growing Beetroot - Cultivation
Beetroot appreciates a good amount of
nitrogen, so may be fed every 2 weeks from the time the plant is about
19 cm high. Because beetroot like a salty soil, you should give them a
watering with a weak salt solution on every alternate week. Dilute 1
teaspoon of common household salt in 4.5 liters of water.
Always make sure that the soil never
dries out because if it does the crop will be woody and unpalatable.
Your beetroot will also become woody if you don't thin the seedlings
out as they grow. No matter how careful you try to be when sowing the
seed you will invariably end up with rows that are overcrowded. If you
don't thin them out there will be no space for your roots to develop
and then only best for using the crop for their foliage.
first thinning out should take place when growing beetroot when the
plants are 3 - 4 cm high, followed by a second thinning out, if
necessary, when the plants are 7 cm high, making sure that there is at
least 7.5 - 10 cm
plant. Drawing the soil up around the
plants will give them extra support and will be welcomed by your
Growing Beetroot in Pots
beetroot in pots and containers is possible as long as you have enough
depth of soil in the pots that will allow the root to develop properly.
One mistake that people make is planting too many plants in the
small confined pace. When planting beetroot you have to take
into consideration that the roots will swell as they grow so
over-plant your pots.
is a typical example of on over-planted vegetable container. The
beetroot planted left, next to the radish are both planted far too
close to one
another with no chance to grow unless you thin out.
other consideration is that because your pots will dry out sooner than
yard soil will, you will need to make sure that the soil in your pots
is always moist without being sodden.
Prepare the soil as for
beetroot growing directions above, and don't forget to feed your potted
beetroot. A seaweed solution applied regularly will give the best
Here is a recipe for homemade container soil:
You can make your own container
gardening soil by
taking 3 parts of good garden loam, 1 part of moistened peat moss, and
1 part coarse river sand. Added to this should be some well-rotted
In addition to your organic material,
you can add the following to every 8 liters of soil:
coffee grounds (rinse
shells (dried and
crushed to powder)
To get air into your soil and to make
it lighter, add some granular polystyrene, or better still Perlite. A
couple of cupfuls to your
containers should be enough. Adjust according to the size of the
container, but can make up 1/3 of the volume. Don't add too much as it
is a water-repellent, and unless you add extra peat moss, you will find
that your soil will dry out quicker than you want.
Finally I always add a good handful of
blood and bone to give the vegetables a good start in their containers.
am also a fan of
poultry manure more than any other for vegetables because of its high
nitrogen content. Just make sure that it is not fresh, as it will burn
the roots of your vegetables.
GROWING BEETROOT - Harvesting
They can be picked at anytime where
they are big enough to be useful. Beets can be picked from the time
they are about 5 cm in diameter, which is about 8 weeks after planting
by seed, or 7 weeks after transplanting. Smaller ones can be picked and
steamed. Medium ones can be grated into salads raw, pickled, cooked,
juiced with other vegetables etc. However, as already mentioned, if you
are going to leave the crop until fully mature, this will happen 10-14
weeks after sowing the seed, depending on the variety.
After pulling your
beetroot from the soil, twist the tops off 3 - 5 cm above the root
crown. Make sure that you do not damage the root crown in any way as
this will cause the root to bleed and loss of color will result.
GROWING BEETROOT - Diseases
Few ailments bother beetroot. Brown
spots may develop on older leaves that could indicate the presence of
a fungal disease, but this is a minor problem which won't affect the
GROWING BEETROOT - Garden Pests
When growing beetroot look out for cutworms that you will find on the
young seedlings and on the crown of mature plants.
GROWING BEETROOT - Storage
can be stored for several months. Remove any leafy tops first and store
in a cool dark location, arranging them so that each piece is quite
separate. You can embed them in a box of either straw or sand
that they don't touch each other.
So what do you do with your beetroot once you have grown it?
Here's a recipe for
Beetroot Cake which is really delicious! Give it a try!
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225 ml sunflower oil
2 large beetroot, cooked & grated
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Beat sugar, eggs and oil together. Add
beetroot. Into a second bowl sift all the dry ingredients together.
Combine contents of both bowls. Pour the mixture into 2 greased 500 g
loaf tins. Bake at 175ºC for 40 minutes.
Pickled beetroot is tangy and a definite favorite at BBQs and picnics
pickled beans, they must be cooked before they can be pickled; also,
unless they are very small, they should be sliced before pickling as
recipe points out.
Pickled Beetroot Recipe
4 qt. red beetroot
2 qt. vinegar
2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
Cut the tops from the red beetroot, leaving 1 inch of the stems
roots attached. Scrub well with a vegetable brush, and put to cook in
boiling water. Cook until the beets are tender enough to be pierced
a fork. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over them.
roots and stems, and cut into slices of any desired thickness or into
dice, if preferred. Pack into jars or crocks. Then bring the vinegar to
a boil, and to it add the sugar, salt, and spices. Pour this hot
over the beets. Seal the beets while hot, cool, and store.
Scrub young beets, or beetroot as some people call them,
and put them
through the juicer. This makes an extremely beautiful wine-red juice,
which unfortunately tastes very unpleasant. Therefore only small
amounts of beet juice can be used. Take
2/3 of canned pineapple juice
and 1/3 beet juice for a very pleasant drink.
A word of advice.
Not all people can drink beetroot juice
as I found out for myself, which I was really upset about, as beetroot
juice is excellent as a tonic and has many health properties. However,
every time I drink beetroot juice, no matter what I mix it with, my
throat constricts and it makes me feel very uncomfortable. So only
drink a little bit, and test to see whether your system tolerates it.
of Growing Beetroot
Beets are particularly rich in folate. Folate and folic acid
have been found to prevent neural-tube birth defects and aid in the
fight against heart disease and anemia. Beets are also high in fiber,
both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps to keep your
intestinal track running smoothly and soluble fiber helps to keep your
blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels on track.
(1 cup cooked, sliced)
Protein 1.5 grams
Carbohydrate 8.5 grams
Dietary Fiber 1.5 grams
Potassium 259 mg
Phosphorus 32 mg
Folate 53.2 mcg
Vitamin A 58.5 IU
colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help
protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers,
especially colon cancer.
Questions & Answers on Growing Beetroot
Q. What causes the beets in my garden to develop
tops but no roots?
A. The most frequent cause for beet plants failing to develop
roots is overcrowding from improper thinning.
Q. What varieties should I grow for beet greens?
A. A special vigorously growing variety, Green Top Bunching,
is excellent for producing greens. Crosby
Egyptian and Early
Wonder also can be used for greens. Planting the seeds 1/2
inch apart without thinning produces an abundance of greens. Swiss chard is a
heavy producer of greens very similar to beet greens.
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