Growing Beetroot from Seed

Growing your own beetroot plants from seed are a rewarding way for any beginner gardener to start growing their own food. Here is my easy guide on how to grow beets.

What is Beetroot?

harvested beets in a box

Beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant and is known by this name in the UK. In other parts of the world, you may hear these simply being called beets.

Beet plants are grown for their edible, bulb like root and their leaves. The bulb is often boiled or roasted but can also be grated and added to salads. The leaves of the beet plant are often used as salad leaves but can also be wilted and eaten like spinach.

The juice can be used as a natural colourant for many different foods, including homemade pasta.

Beetroot can also be pickled and stored to be eaten in the winter months, when the growing season is over.

The Beet Seeds

example of beetroot seed in palm of hand

You will find many different varieties of beetroot seeds at the garden centre, but they are all grown in pretty much the same way. Most often, you will find the red varieties of beetroot seeds. However, beetroot can come in a variety of other colours including white, yellow or even striped.

The corky looking seeds, which are actually clusters of seeds enclosed in a little protective capsule, must be thinned out as they grow, to prevent them overcrowding.

There are some varieties on the market which only enclose one seed per capsule, so the need for thinning is eliminated, however, these are less reliable for a beginner since they may not germinate. Growing multi seed capsules, boosts your chances of a successful crop. If you are careful when thinning, you can grow the thinned beetroot in pots and plant out when they’ve re-established themselves, in a different area. However, this method isn’t always successful.

Beetroot seeds can be sown directly into the ground from mid spring.

Preparing The Soil to Sow Beetroot

planting the beetroot

The best method to ensure you have a steady supply of beetroot is to plant short rows at regular intervals, throughout the growing season. This way, you won’t have your beetroot ready all at once and suffer a glut. You can use a vegetable patch planner to help you decide when and where to plant the beetroot throughout the growing season.

Beetroot likes fertile, well draining soil.

Begin to prepare your seed bed by removing any lumps of earth and digging in some compost.

Make a little trench and place the seeds about 10cm apart. Cover the seeds with about 2cm of soil and pat it down gently.

You may want to protect your seedlings from birds or mice. You can do this by covering the planted soil with some chicken wire or sticks. Gently water the seeds using a watering can fitted with a rose head. Using a rose head will help prevent you from washing your seeds away.

When the plants have grown a couple of cms high you need to thin them out to about 10cm apart again. Carefully remove the weaker plants and allow the stronger ones to grow on.

If you don’t have much space, beetroot will also do well in pots. Just be sure to give them room to grow and water the pots more regularly as they will dry out much quicker. However, remember that beetroot like a well draining soil, so don’t drown them.

You can grow a plentiful supply of beetroot by planting new seeds every few weeks throughout the summer.

Harvesting Beetroot

cooked beetroot with a glass of juice and sliced beetroot

If you want to harvest the beet leaves for salads, you can do this while the root is still fattening up. Carefully twist off a few leaves, leaving the bulb in place with the other leaves still intact. Be careful to not take too many as the plant will struggle to continue its growth. Make sure you remove the leaves by twisting them off, do not cut them, otherwise the juice will bleed out. You can add your leaves to a home grown mixed salad.

The taproot can be harvested at whatever size you prefer. However, be careful that you don’t leave them in the ground for too long. Eventually the roots will become tough and woody, making them inedible. Pull your beetroot up using a garden fork to loosen the soil if necessary.

Grow your Own Beetroot FAQ

How long does it take for Beetroot to grow?

You can begin harvesting around 7 weeks from sowing, but for larger plants, it is best to wait 12 weeks.

Can you grow beetroot in pots?

Yes you can, beetroot are good for smaller spaces, providing the pots are deep enough to allow the roots to grow down.

Why are my beetroot plants not thriving?

Beetroot needs a good amount of sunshine and water. Also, be sure to thin the seeds before they get too big. Overcrowded beetroot will not be able to form a large bulb.

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