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Growing beet: Tips for sowing, care & harvesting

25.11.2020  /  Reading time: 8 minutes

It is versatile and is also one of the healthiest vegetables of all: beet. Thanks to its rapid growth and uncomplicated care, it is also suitable for newcomers to hobby gardening. In the kitchen, it enriches your menu until late into the fall. Find out how you can easily grow beet yourself in this article.

This article contains:

  1. Growing beet - Good to know
  2. Beet or beet?
  3. Sowing beet - pre-breeding or direct sowing?
  4. Planting beet in a mixed culture
  5. Fertilizing and caring for beet
  6. Diseases and pests of beet
  7. Harvesting & storing beet
  8. Frequently asked questions: Growing beet

Quick Overview

  • Light requirement: sunny to semi-shady
  • Nutrient requirements: medium
  • Water requirement: high
  • Soil: loose, deep and slightly humus-rich
  • Germination temperature: 8 - 20 °C
  • Sowing: Pre-breeding from March, direct sowing in May/June
  • Sowing depth: 2 - 3 cm
  • Planting distance: 10 cm
  • Row spacing : 25 cm

Growing beet - Good to know

Beet(Beta vulgaris) is also known as beet or beetroot. It belongs to the goosefoot family(Chenopodiaceae) and is therefore closely related to spinach and Swiss chard.

All three are descended from the wild beet, but as cultivated plants they have been bred for different characteristics. While the breeding of Swiss chard and spinach is aimed at lush leaf growth, beet is intended to form a thick bulb.

Beet and chard come from the same plant family.

Beet is a biennial. In the first year, it forms a rosette of leaves with long stalked leaves and the spherical beetroot. In the second year, the beet goes into flower and develops seeds. A stalk up to 1.5 m long with an inflorescence grows from the beetroot, from which the wrinkled seeds then emerge. In our climates, however, beet has to be stored over the winter to produce seeds and then planted out again in spring. It is only hardy in Mediterranean regions.

Beet: healthy tubers for the self-catering garden

Beet originally comes from the Mediterranean region, but is now widely cultivated as a popular crop. In its storage organ, the beet, the plant concentrates all the important minerals and ingredients. Beet is therefore very rich in vitamin B, potassium, folic acid and iron. It is also said to have a blood-forming effect.

In addition to the classic purple-red color, there are also varieties with white, yellow or red and white striped flesh, such as 'Tondo du Chioggia'. Dark varieties generally have a more earthy taste.

The "Tondo di Chioggia" variety has a red and white striped interior.

Beet or beet?

Beet or beet, how do you spell it? The name originally comes from the Greek 'beta' (= beet) and was then naturalized as beet or beet. However, the originally incorrect spelling with two 'e's has become so widespread that it is now also accepted and can be used according to the Duden dictionary.


Sowing beet - pre-breeding or direct sowing?

Beet grows most vigorously when it is not transplanted, as it has relatively sensitive roots. Transplanting usually weakens the plants a lot and costs some of them their lives. If you do want to transplant them, choose a moist, overcast day. To make your decision a little easier, we have summarized the advantages and disadvantages of pre-cultivation and direct sowing for you here.

Prefer beet

Beet is easy to grow. You can start growing them indoors as early as March. The seedlings are then planted in the bed from April. If there is a threat of heavy frost, you should also protect the small plants with fleece. By growing them in advance, you can harvest earlier.

Sow beet directly

You can sow beet directly into the bed from April to June. The germination period is approx. 2 weeks. Direct sowing is very uncomplicated, as the large seeds can be easily dosed. To do this, sow two seeds every 10 cm in a row and only let the stronger plant grow later. This way, you don't have to separate the young plants. Also ensure a row spacing of 25 cm. If you sow too densely, you can gradually pull out individual beets and use them. This allows the remaining plants to spread better and form large balls. Late sowing from May to June produces particularly fine beets and supplies for the winter.

Sowing beet
Beet is usually sown directly in the field. The tuber does not tolerate planting out very well!

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Need more information about beetroots?

In our library, you will find information on the individual varieties with cultivation periods, planting and harvesting tips. You will also find good and bad neighbors to help you plan a mixed crop.

Check out our library

Planting beet in a mixed culture

You can find out which plants are good neighborsfor beet and which are bad neighbors in our article. Here we give you an overview of the neighborhoods and what you need to consider in crop rotation and crop rotation with beet!

Fertilizing and caring for beet

In general, beet is relatively undemanding and easy to care for. In the beginning, you should weed every now and then so that the tender young plants are not crowded out by wild herbs. Over time, however, the beet forms a lush rosette of leaves that shades the soil and keeps it largely weed-free.

In order to form beautiful large balls, it always needs sufficient moisture. Otherwise it will largely stop growing if there is a lack of water. So make sure that the soil never dries out. Mulching helps to maintain the soil moisture that the beets need. However, the soil should be well loosened to prevent waterlogging. Otherwise, waterlogging can cause the roots to "suffocate" and start to rot. This phenomenon occurs particularly in heavy soils.

Fertilize organically with compost or manure

Beet is a medium feeder, so additional fertilization is usually not absolutely necessary. If you wish, you can provide the bed with compost and mulch cover in the fall. Alternatively, green manure in the previous fall ensures a good soil structure and sufficient nutrients for the beet to grow.

If the soil is very poor in nutrients, it can be fertilized once during the growing season with plant manure. You should not use fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, as this can lead to excessive nitrate deposits in the beetroot. Beet should be fertilized with potassium, which supports healthy root growth. Comfrey slurry, for example, is very suitable for making a potassium-rich plant slurry.

Harvested beet
To prevent the tubers from bursting or becoming woody, you should ensure an even supply of water.

Diseases and pests of beet

The leaves of the beet are usually affected. This often results in plant diseases such as black spot, red spot or angular leaf spot. Beet is also frequently attacked by downy mildew. However, beet is relatively robust. The spots on the leaves are usually harmless and can be tolerated. However, if the discoloration is severe, you should remove the diseased parts of the plant. Spraying horsetail tea on several consecutive days can also help. A decoction with garlic or onions also helps with fungal diseases.

A common pest of goosefoot plants is the beet fly. From the end of April, as well as in July/August, eggs can be found on the underside of mostly fully developed leaves. After the larvae hatch, their feeding tunnels become visible on the leaves. The burrows can burst open over time. After 2-3 weeks, the larvae pupate in the soil. Spraying with neem oil can help here.

Harvesting & storing beet

You can read all about harvesting, storing and preserving beet in this article. Here you will find tips on fresh processing of beet as well as ways to preserve it.


Beet is a real health booster and no vegetable garden should be without it. I hope you now have everything you need to grow them yourself. If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at [email protected].

Want to get helpful gardening tips all year round and plan your own beds in the best possible way? Then register here or download the Fryd app for Android or iOS.

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Author

Annabell

Annabell is studying agricultural biology at the University of Hohenheim. She also enjoys gardening in her private life, spends a lot of time in nature and loves to be creative.

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FAQ

You can sow beet directly into the bed from April to June. The germination period is approx. 2 weeks. You can start growing them indoors as early as March. The seedlings are then planted in the bed from April.

Beet has a high water requirement. In order to form beautiful large balls, it always needs sufficient moisture. Otherwise it will largely stop growing if there is a lack of water. So make sure that the soil never dries out.

Beet is a medium feeder, so additional fertilization is usually not absolutely necessary. If you wish, you can provide the bed with compost and mulch cover in the fall. Alternatively, green manure in the previous fall ensures a good soil structure and sufficient nutrients.

Beet is a biennial. In the first year, it forms a rosette of leaves with long stalked leaves and the spherical beetroot. In the second year, the beet goes into flower and develops seeds. However, it is only hardy in Mediterranean regions.

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