Top Tips For Growing Beetroot
There’s more to beetroot than pickling it!
If you grow beetroot at home, you’ll find they’re sweeter and more tender than most of what you find in the shops. You can choose to pick them young, to eat whole (and raw) in salads or let them get bigger and steam them or even turn them into soup. It’s best to plant seeds every 4 weeks, so you have a regular supply of young, smaller beetroot, rather than pretending to enjoy them once they’re too big and the cores get woody.
Here’s how to grow beetroot from seed – in your garden or in containers.
I have to confess that I’m one of those weird people who loves pickled beetroot. I make it by steaming the beetroot slices and then preserving them in a good quality apple cider vinegar, with black peppercorns and coriander seeds.
However, many a childhood experience of beetroot has been marred by the pickled variety!
The good news is that home-grown beetroot is sweet and tender. Whether you eat it raw, steam it or even mash it up, it’s got a flavour that appeals to most people.
Do you want yours purple, pink or orange?
Beetroot isn’t difficult to grow and there are many varieties available – from traditional deep purple to orange and even pink and white striped. Then there are different shapes and sizes of root.
Whichever you choose, succession sowing (planting a small number of seeds every month or sow) is the key to having fresh, young beetroot to enjoy all summer.
Eating purple, round-rooted beetroot is a relatively recent phenomenon. They Ancient Greeks ate the leaves, but the roots were long, thin and not eaten until the 1500s.
Raw beetroot is a good source of vitamin C and iron. Clever mother nature knew that vitamin C increases iron absorption, so raw beetroot (or juiced) is a great way to get your daily dose. There are plenty of good reasons to it. Here are 5 top health benefits of beetroot.
How To Grow Beetroot
|When to sow?||Every 4-6 weeks from early spring to mid summer – approx. March to mid July, depending on your weather & climate.
Sow any later than July and they might bolt (go to seed), before forming their roots.
|Where to sow?||Under cover (in an unheated greenhouse) at the beginning of the season. Sow in modules to minimise root disturbance when planting out.
Direct in the growing site from mid/late April onwards.
|Spacing of final plants?||About 10 – 15cm (4-6 inches), depending how big you want your beetroot to grow.
I initially plant them at half this distance, so I can havest small roots, earlier in the season.
|Ongoing care?||Keep them well weeded and water them in dry weather.
If you’re growing beetroot in containers, make sure they are deep enough and big enough, so the beetroot don’t dry out. They tend not to recover.
|When to harvest?||From about May to October, depending on the sowing time and beetroot seed variety.|
Sowing Beetroot Seeds
Early in the year, I tend to sow beetroot seeds in module trays in the greenhouse, to give them a head start – being an impatient girl, by nature!
I generally plant 1 or 2 seeds per module, at a depth of about 1cm (under 1/2 inch). The first beetroot seedlings appear at around 10 days and I plant them out into the garden (or larger containers) after 4-5 weeks, once they have at least 5-6 strong leaves.
From April time, I often plant them direct into the garden, depending on the weather. I have found that, in really wet weather, they rot, rather than germinating – hence often starting them off indoors!
Whether sowing beetroot direct or transplanting beetroot seedlings, I usually sow them at about 5cm (2 inches) apart. This is closer than the seed packets recommend, but it means I can harvest some of the small, baby beetroot plants early, whilst leaving the rest to grow to their full size.
Planting Out Beetroot Seedlings
Seedlings take about 10 days to appear, depending on the weather and seed variety.
Plant out / transplant when the seedlings have about 6 ‘proper’ (i.e. not the first) leaves. Make sure you disturb the roots as little as possible and firm the seedlings in well.
You can either plant them out at the final spacing of 10-15cm (4-6 inches) or plant out closer and pick smaller-rooted baby beetroot as you thin out the crop.
If you have grown beetroot, what are your top tips?
If you’re new to beetroot growing, do you have any questions?
Please share via the comments box – we’d love to hear from you!