How to Grow Beets from Seeds
Beet seeds are actually composed of 4 to 6 seeds that are clumped together. Beets are always grown from seeds, because transplanting seedlings may not always be unsuccessful. These wonderful, nutritious vegetables are grown for their roots, which are usually boiled or baked, and also the leaves that are generally used in salads. Beets are available in different colors, shapes and sizes, and are easy to grow and maintain in the right conditions.
Step 1 – Starting Seeds
Beets grow best in cool weather, so you can sow the seeds in the spring, as soon as you can work on the ground, and there is no danger of frost. Beet seeds can be tricky to germinate, because of a hard covering. You can soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours or up to a day before sowing them, to increase the chances of germination. Beets require rich soil that is high in organic matter. Before sowing seeds, till the soil in the planting spot to a depth of about 1 foot, and incorporate plenty of mature compost. Remove rocks and other hard structures, because they can interfere with the root growth. Mix the soil thoroughly and let it settle for a few days.
Step 2 – Sowing Seeds
Sow the beet seeds half an inch deep in the soil, leaving a space of 2 to 3 inches between each seed cluster. If you are planting the seeds in rows, leave a space of 1 to 2 feet between the rows. Water the soil regularly so that is moist, but not too soggy. The seedlings will emerge in less than 2 weeks, and need to be thinned for adequate growth and air circulation. When the seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin them out so there is a space of 3 to 4 inches between each. If the thinned seedlings have adequate roots, you can consume them, or just use the leaves in a salad.
Step 3 – Watering and Fertilization
For high quality beet roots with uniform layers, you must water the plants regularly. Keeping the soil moist is a necessity, or else the beet roots will grow to be uneven and rough. Inadequate water also causes a discoloration in the interior of the root. Feed an all-purpose fertilizer every few weeks, either a liquid version or by adding it to the soil. Keep the area free of weeds. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, as they encourage foliage growth at the expense of the root development. Covering the beets with a light layer of organic mulch helps in keeping the soil moist and cool, while also preventing weeds.
Step 4 – Harvesting Beets
Start harvesting beets when they approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. The shoots can also be harvested regularly, starting from when they are 2 inches tall. Avoid leaving beet roots in the ground too long, as they become tough and tasteless. Mature beets have a very fibrous, rough texture as compared to the sweet softness of young beets.