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Beets At A Glance

  • Beets are a cool-season biennial plant grown as an annual crop for spring or fall planting.
  • Beets prefer well-drained, organically amended soil with potassium and boron.
  • Beet greens are high in vitamin A. Use for salads. Roots have vitamin C are cooked, juiced, and pickled.
  • Use proper seed depth, spacing, moisture, and regular weeding for the best crops.
  • Growing good beets is an art that even expert gardeners find challenging.

Planting Instructions

Beet seeds should be direct sown starting in spring.

  • Beets will develop roots in warmer weather, but seedlings get their best start during cool, moist conditions.
  • Beets can be planted using seed tapes. The benefit of using seed tapes is the seeds are spaced, so no thinning is necessary. The seeds are also planted at the same depth so they come up more uniformly.
  • Beet seeds will germinate in cool soils, but it takes time (2-3 weeks in 50°F soil). Waiting until soils warm to at least 60°F improves this time to a few days to 1 week, depending on moisture level and seed depth.
  • Pre-soaking hard beet seeds also helps speed germination. Soak the seeds overnight, for eight hours, starting with warm water.
  • Sow seeds in pre-moistened shallow furrows.
  • Add a few radish seeds that come up rapidly. They mark the rows so you can weed before the beets emerge. By the time the beets need the space, the radishes will have matured and will be eaten.
  • Plant seeds 1-2 inches apart initially, 1/2 inch deep, and cover with 1/4 inch of pre-moistened starting mix. Leave 12-18 in. between each row.
  • Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin them to 3-4 in. apart.

NOTE: With beets, each seed will produce a cluster of seedlings. Left to mature this way, they'll be overcrowded with little to no root development. Use thinned seedlings as salad greens.


  • Pull weeds frequently at a small size and keep the area around beets mulched as beets resent any competition from weeds, and since their roots are sensitive to disturbance, if weeds are allowed, pulling them disrupts the beetroots.
  • Keep soil consistently moist with regular watering and mulching around plants.
  • Beets, like other root crops, require healthy nutrient-rich soils, but too much nitrogen leads to lush greens with small to no root development.
  • Most beet varieties mature in 50-65 days. Planting successive crops yields longer harvests.


All tops with little to no roots

  • Overcrowding. Thin seedlings more initially.
  • High nitrogen too high. Utilize more compost and aged manure as a nutrient source or use water-soluble, naturally derived fertilizer with added boron and potassium for best results.
  • High temperatures. Start beets during cool weather in spring or fall. Beet color is enhanced by cool temperatures. Warmer weather decreases the color intensity.

Bolting (plants start flowering)

  • Incorrect planting time. Cool-weather is beneficial; too much early cold leads to bolting once temperatures increase.
  • High temperatures. Heat stress can trigger beet plants to bolt. Less common in fall crops started in mid to late summer.
  • Plant stress. Other stresses like drought or inconsistent soil moisture, nutrient imbalances, fungal disease pressure, or insect feeding can all lead to bolting.