Beets are both sweet and earthy, and are highly nutritious from the tips of their leaves to the bottom of their roots. Both leaves and roots are edible, and gardeners should take advantage of their rich flavor and culinary versatility. There are more than just red beets so try something unique like a Touchstone yellow.
Beets are a cool-season biennial root vegetable usually grown as an annual for both their flavorful leaves and their sweet, earthy roots. They prefer cooler weather, making them an ideal three-season crop for some growing regions. Hot, dry weather is not conducive to growing beets.
There are two main types of beets: beetroot, which is the type we eat; and sugar beet, which is mainly used for making sugar. 20% of the U.S. sugar supply comes from sugar beets.
But what we want to grow is beetroot: usually a deep red root with bright green leaves with red veins. However, not all beets are that classic red that may seem so familiar. You can also grow beets that are golden yellow, white, striped. Beets are cousins to chard.
Seed Planting Process
Beet seeds take a week or two to germinate, so plan ahead. If you live in a cooler area, you’ll want to get started early.
Beets are one root crop that can be transplanted HOWEVER, they like to be direct sown.
Grow your beet seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your expected last frost date. For best results, use a seed starting formula. Make sure your seed tray has deep individual soil compartments; 3 inches is good. Beets have deep root systems, so you want to give them a good head start.
Once your seedlings emerge, they are going to need plenty of light. Put them by a sunny window or turn on grow lights about 4 inches above your seedlings. Leave the lights on for 16 hours, off for eight hours. Don’t leave the lights on 24/7; most plants need a little darkness to grow.
Once your seedlings begin to grow, you’ll want to harden them off before you transplant them to your garden. So, about three to four weeks after you plant the seeds, give your new seedlings a little sheltered outside time, starting with an hour or two a day in indirect sunlight, progressing to a full day outside. Bring your seedlings in for the night after each outdoor foray. This process helps strengthen the plant’s cells, giving them a better chance of thriving when you transplant them. Beets don’t really like to be interrupted when they’re growing, so direct seeding is really the best. Beet seeds can go in the ground as soon as the soil temperature has reached at least 40 degrees F.