Growing beets in the home garden provides you with fresh beet greens for steaming or adding to green salads in late spring. If allowed to mature, tender red beets form under the ground and are ready to boil and eat by mid summer or make into delicious pickled beets in the fall. These easy-to-grow vegetables need little care making them ideal for the beginner's garden.
How to Grow Beets
Location: Prepare the soil in a sunny location that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost and work it into the soil to improve aeration and promote drainage. Apply 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer following the recommended application rate on the container. Work it into the top 6 inches of soil.
Planting: Sow beet seeds to a depth of ¼ inch, spaced 2 to 4 inches apart in rows - if you intend to allow them to mature. For beet greens, create a raised row in the garden approximately eight inches wide. Broadcast the seeds over the area to create a wide row of beets. Cover the seeds with soil and firm down lightly to secure the seeds.
Watering: Water newly planted seeds thoroughly and keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in 7 to 10 days. Germination time depends on the weather and may take up to two weeks in cold weather. Once established, water beets deeply once or twice a week to keep the soil from drying out.
Fertilizer: Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for garden vegetables once or twice a month. Beets grown in raised beds or containers require supplemental feeding as the nutrients often leach from the soil with repeated watering.
Weeding: Keep weeds under control by hand picking or cutting them at the base with a sharp hoe. For beets grown in a long row, mulching with organic mulch is an option for weed control.
Harvesting: Harvest beet greens when the leaves are 4 to 6 inches high. As the beets mature the leaves and stems become tough and stringy losing their characteristic sweet flavor. Many prefer to pull every other beet plant for greens while allowing others to grow to maturity. Harvesting just the outer leaves is also an option. Harvest mature beet roots in late summer or fall.