are relatively easy to grow in the home garden, and practically
the whole plant can be eaten. Beets can be grown for their roots--which
can come in different shapes and sizes as well as red, yellow or
white colors. The tops or greens, when young, are excellent in salads
and can be cooked when the plant is more mature. The greens are
even more nutritious than the roots.
Beets prefer a cooler climate, although they are tolerant of heat.
Temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees F and bright sunny days are ideal
for beet plant growth and development. Beets can withstand cold
weather short of severe freezing, making them a good long-season
Beets prefer loose, well-drained soils but will tolerate a wide
range. Remove stones and debris which will hinder growth. Beets
also make an excellent raised bed crop since soils are generally
less compacted and there is less foot traffic. They prefer a pH
of 6.2 to 6.8 and will tolerate 6.0 to 7.5--low soil pH results
in stunted growth.
and lime are best applied using soil test results as a guide. A
fertilizer with the analysis of 5-10-10 can be applied at the time
of seeding and again when the plants are about three inches high.
Plant the seeds in a well-prepared seedbed as soon as the soil can
be worked in the spring. Sow the seeds 1/2-inch deep and in rows
12 to 18 inches or more apart depending on the method of cultivation.
Space the seeds, which are actually fruits containing several seeds,
one inch apart in the rows. When the seedlings are one to two inches
tall, thin to about one plant per inch. As they grow, thin to about
three to four inches between plants.
planting can be done at three week intervals throughout the season.
Avoid seeding during daytime temperatures of 80 degrees F, wait
until it is cooler. Most varieties will mature within 55 to 70 days
and can be planted until late summer.
plants are well established, the application of a mulch will conserve
soil moisture, prevent soil compaction and help suppress weed growth.
Any mechanical cultivation should be very shallow in order to avoid
damage to the beet roots.
In order to obtain the highest quality, beets must grow continuously.
Soil moisture and plant nutrient element supply must be adequately
maintained to prevent checking of the growth. Supplemental watering
may be necessary during dry spells.
Weeds, insects and diseases must be controlled in the planting.
Principal insect and disease problems of beets are flea beetles,
leaf miners, aphids and Cercospora leaf
spot. Regular inspection of the crop can help deter a major pest
infestation. Row covers at an early stage deter flea beetles and
Beets can be harvested at any time in their growth cycle. Greens
are best when four to six inches tall. Beet roots are generally
most tender after growing for 40 to 50 days. The best size is between
1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. As beets get larger, they tend to
become more fibrous. When harvested, leave at least one inch of
foliage on the root to avoid bleeding during cooking. Beets are
suited to long-term storage if kept at temperatures near freezing
and with high humidity to prevent wilting.
from Pamela J. Bennett, Ohio State University Extension, 2000