How to grow beetroot

Freshly grown beetroot is tender, juicy and has a delicious earthy taste. Growing beetroot at home is quite easy as the vegetable doesn’t suffer much from pests and you don’t have to wait long till harvest time. 

However, you need to know the trick of growing beetroot to get the perfect crop.

The beetroot is the taproot of a beet plant, which is generally known as beets in North America and as beetroots in British English and also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, dinner beet, or golden beet.

So, are you wondering how to plant beetroot and when to harvest? Beetroot is a delicious vegetable that can be added to many dishes, so let’s find out what the best ways to grow it is.

To help you get started with it, here is everything you need to know- from the recommended varieties to the common problems and remedies along with a step-by-step guide on beetroot cultivation.

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Table of Contents

Recommended Varieties

Here are some beetroot varieties that we recommend for growing in the UK climate:

Detroit Globe (Our Favourite!)

Discovered a century ago, this one is a popular variety for crop sowing. It has deep red flesh that’s tender, juicy and yummy. Being one of the easiest to grow when you use the right soil, it also provides a good storage time. To get the best crop, you need to harvest at the correct time when the beetroots have grown to the size of a golf ball or tennis ball.

Golden Beet

Named after its globe-shaped yellowish-orange flesh, this one adds good flavour to the taste buds. Golden beets are rich in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene. The flavour is slightly sweeter and milder than the red beetroots with a unique nuttiness.

Crimson King

This King’s own variety can be collected from the Essex farm. It is identified by the round roots that are medium to large in size. The deep red roots have no rings and they have a fine texture and flavour. You can store this variety well in winter.

Bulls’ Blood

This variety is mainly cultivated for decoration but you can abundantly use the dark red beets and edible beet leaves in baby leaf salads. The crimson colour and sweet flavour make it ideal for salads.

Barbabietola di Chioggia

If you prefer a mild flavour, this variety can please your taste buds. This Italian variety has white concentric rings that look beautiful when you slice the roots. This one takes less cooking time than other varieties.

Cylindra

This is another variety that offers excellent flavour when you chop the roots in thin slices. Though this stump-rooted half long variety takes more time to grow, it provides a good storage capacity in winter.

Boltardy 

Among bolt-resistant varieties, this one is a good option for early sowing in March. The globe-shaped roots have a medium size and smooth skin. The deep red flesh of the roots has no rings.

Cheltenham Green Top

This British tapered beetroot variety has a slightly rough texture but the taste and flavour that it adds have always made it a gardener’s favourite. Staging this variant on a show bench will look wonderful.

Pablo AGM

This versatile variant can be sown early or late depending upon your preference. You can either use it as a baby beet or a maincrop and put it in salads. It has dark red roots that are round in shape.

beetroot in the ground

Planting

Beetroots are ideal for small gardens as they do not take up much space. For continuous cropping, you can sow them in a small proportion pretty often and enjoy fresh crop every time they grow. You can also choose to sow the seeds at once and store the grown crop the entire winter.

Are you wondering which place will be perfect for beetroots and how you can choose fertile soil?

Where to Sow

Well, you can plant beetroots both indoors and outdoors by choosing a space that gets full sun and partial shade. Well drained soil or free draining soil is ideal for growing beetroots but make sure the soil is not recently manured as that will lead to misshapen roots. You can choose a slightly alkaline or neutral soil that has a PH level of 6 to 7. Heavy soil is not suitable if you want to get the best crop.

When to Sow

Though the best time to sow the seeds is early March, you can do it up to July as the weather will be similar in these months. To enjoy small and delish early crop, you can sow variants like Pablo that provides bolt resistance. Make sure you plant it under cloches by the beginning of March.

Sowing

To sow beetroot seed, you need to make a 2cm deep drill in the raised beds and then sow seeds in rows 10cm apart. The space between each row should be 30cm. Beetroot seeds are usually sown in a cluster that produces 3 to 4 beetroot seedlings. Also, make sure you thin the young seedlings so that the roots get enough space to grow.

Sowing Tips

The process of sowing beetroot has some more specifications. It’s better to sow beetroot at fortnightly intervals so that you can continue to get tasty, tender roots. It will also help you to save beetroot seeds from the glut. To protect the seeds from pests and harsh weather, you can sow them in modular trays by using peat-free compost that has lower nutrients than multipurpose composts.

Growing

To grow beetroot organically, you can plant the thin seedlings out but make sure they don’t get constricted. You can keep them in modular trays for up to 3 weeks. On each module, sow one cluster and leave the strongest seedling for germination. For thinning, don’t pull roots but instead, cut the stem with a scissor or nip it using your fingers. It will help you to protect the plant from potential damage.

Keeping the area weed-free is very important while growing beetroots. Otherwise, the sunlight, water and nutrients will be shared by the weeds, which will result in poor growth. You can try some organic methods such as hoeing frequently to prevent weeds from growing. Also, watering is essential when the weather becomes too dry. Otherwise, watering every 12-14 days will suffice the plant needs.

Watering

Watering properly will make your crops healthier and tastier in every aspect. If you notice that the young plants are suffering to grow, you can consider prepared soil by using a high nitrogen fertiliser such as ammonia or sulphate. You can also use well-rotted organic matter before sowing the seeds. During winter, it’s crucial to create a frost-free shed above the plants.

watering beetroot

Harvesting

The best time for harvesting beetroot starts from early summer and goes up to mid-autumn. However, it will ultimately depend upon the time of sowing the seeds and the variety you plant. Once the roots are harvested, make the bed clean and pull up some alternate plants such as spinach. If some roots are ready whereas some need to grow more, you can leave them to reach the maximum maturity.

However, always make sure that you harvest the roots on time when they don’t become larger than a cricket ball. Otherwise, you will end up rotting the entire bunch of crops. After harvest, storing beetroot is not a problem in winter or up to mid-spring but make sure you store them in a cool, dry place. Some variants are ideal for winter storage whereas some early crops should be finished a few weeks earlier.

harvesting beetroot

Common Problems & Remedies

Here are some common problems with beetroot plants that you need to control by following the remedies we have provided:

Bolting

It is a common problem in beetroots that is identified by the production of flower stems before harvest. Bolting is an undesirable condition that leads to premature seeds and poor plant growth. However, you can control bolting by following the below remedy.

Remedy

You can opt for bolt-resistant variants to make sure this problem never occurs. Otherwise, there are two ways of preventing bolting. Firstly, sow the seeds at the correct time and avoid sowing them anytime you want. Secondly, make sure the compost or soil is well moist without overwatering the plants.

Pest Attacks

Though you already know that beetroots are quite resistant to pests and diseases, there might be a few pesky creatures that you need to be on the lookout for. Birds, leaf miners or mangold leaves are some examples.

Remedy

To protect baby beets from birds, you can use a net or a shade when the plant is at the seedlings stage. Leaf miners are small grubs that can create holes or channels in young leaves and then cause blisters. The best way to get rid of them is by selecting the affected leaves, cutting them off and thereby securing the plants.

birds can eat beetroot
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Oliver Wright

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