Updated: Apr 17
I list beets as one of the 11 easiest vegetables to grow in Canada. Beets are a perfect addition for those of us gardening in the zone 3 growing climate as they prefer cold weather to hot. Beets are rarely bothered by pests or diseases and need little care besides thinning and regular watering. Let's look at some easy tips for growing beets from seed in in ground gardens, raised beds or in containers.
Tip #1. Direct Seed Beet Seeds
My first tip for growing beets from seed is to direct sow your seeds into your garden. They do not transplant well and tolerate frost and cold weather well. Plant your beet seeds directly into your garden or container soil up to a month before your last expected spring frost.
Tip #2. Plant Beet Seeds in Rich, Loose, Well Drained Soil
Add compost to your soil prior to planting your beet seeds. Beets grow quickly in rich, loose soil. Do not fertilize once planted. Adding nitrogen once beet plants are growing will cause tops to grow large while the bottoms remain small.
Tip #3. Plant Beet Seeds Where They Will Get 6 Hours of Sunlight or More
Although beets like cooler temperatures and thrive in 10 - 18 degree C (50 - 65F) temperatures they do not do well with less then 6 hours of sunlight. Plant your beets in an area where they will get 6 or more hours of sunlight each day.
Tip #4. How to Plant Beet Seeds
Plant beet seeds about one inch apart and one inch deep in rows 10 inches apart near the end of April. If you are planting later than mid May, seeds can be soaked for 24 hours for faster germination.
My favourite variety of beets to grow are the classic Detroit Dark Red beets.
Tip #5. Water Consistently
Water beets as needed. To check on soil moisture dig down with your finger. When soil is dry past your middle knuckle (or more than 1 to 2 inches down) it is time to water. Mulch can be placed around plants after thinning to help conserve moisture.
Tip #6. Thin Your Beets
Thin beets when they are 2 to 3 inches high, leaving a plant every 4 to 6 inches. Pulling out tiny plants can seem so hard but trust me, it will greatly improve the health and size of the remaining plants.
Tip #7. When to Harvest Beets
Beets are most tender when they are young. Beets can be harvested once they are 2.5 inches in diameter. To check how large your beets are you can gently remove the surface of the soil from around them. Beets can handle freezing temperatures of up to -10 degrees Celsius (14 F) and can be left in the ground until late fall. Some people use a cold frame over their beets and harvest them into the winter months.
Tip #8. How to Prepare Beets for Cooking
Always leave at least 1/2 inch of stems on top of the beet and do not trim the root right up to the beet. Doing so will cause the beet to bleed, losing flavour and moisture. Beet tops can be eaten too! We love them cooked with butter and a little balsamic vinegar. They taste especially amazing topped with goat cheese.
Tip #9. Storing Beets
Beets can be cooked and frozen (I vacuum seal mine), canned or kept in a fridge or cold room. A family favourite in our house is pickled beets!
Companion Plants for Beets
Beets return manganese and iron to the soil. Beets do well planted near carrots, corn, cucumbers, bush beans, brassicas, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks or lettuce. Avoid planting near dill or pole beans.
I hope you have enjoyed these tips for growing beet from seed and have found some information that will help you to grow your garden beets.
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