How to Grow Beets That are Sweet Tender and Tasty

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Are you looking to add some versatility and nutrition to your garden? Look no further than beets! These vibrant root vegetables come in various colors, from the classic red to golden and even striped beet varieties. You can grow beets for the roots and the leaves and grow a harvest in spring and fall, making them a highly nutritious and versatile vegetable for your garden.

Our article will take you through everything you need to know to grow tasty, sweet beets in your backyard. If you are a beginner gardener, this post is for you because we even included the best varieties that are pest and disease-resistant to get you started.

Red ripe beautiful beet bunch with vibrant green leaves resting on a table.
Table of Contents

    Choosing the Right Location to Plant Beets

    To grow good beets, it all starts with the right location. Good sun, soil, water, and drainage.

    Select a sunny spot with well-drained soil for optimal beet growth.

    Choosing the right location is crucial. These vibrant root vegetables thrive in sunny spots, so find an area in your garden that receives full sunlight throughout the day. Sunlight helps beets develop their rich color and enhances their overall flavor.

    Beets growing in a garden row.

    Avoid planting in areas prone to waterlogging or heavy shade.

    Beets do not appreciate wet feet, so it’s important to avoid areas of your garden prone to waterlogging. Excessive moisture can lead to rotting roots and hinder the growth of your beets.

    Heavy shade can stunt their development and result in smaller yields. Plant beets in a well-drained area allow excess water to flow away from the plants.

    Consider the pH level of the soil, aiming for slightly acidic to neutral conditions.

    Beets prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Test your soil’s pH level using a home testing kit or send a sample to a local agricultural extension office for analysis. If the pH level is too high (alkaline), you can amend the soil by adding organic matter like compost or peat moss to lower it closer to neutral.

    Remember, when planting beets indoors or directly in the ground, selecting an appropriate location plays a significant role in their successful growth. By providing them with ample sunlight well-drained soil, and maintaining optimal pH levels, you’ll create an ideal environment for these delicious root vegetables.

    Ideal beet harvest with blemish free, perfect, ruby red beet roots resting in a harvest box.  The image is intended to illustrate the ideal beet harvest if all growing conditions are met.
    The Ideal Beet Harvest if All Conditions are Met.

    The Best Varitieties of Beet Seed for New Gardeners

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    Are you new to growing beets? Beets are relatively easy to grow, but there are a few beet varieties that are popular among garners for both their disease and pest resistance and for their sweet taste. Here are a few of our favorites we’ve grown over the years. The stand out is always Detroit dark red.

    1. Detroit Dark Red: This classic beet variety is a favorite among beginners. It produces round, deep-red beets with sweet, tender flesh.
    2. Boltardy: Known for its resistance to bolting (premature flowering), Boltardy is a reliable and easy-to-grow beet variety. It produces round, sweet beets.
    3. Early Wonder: As the name suggests, Early Wonder beets grow quickly and are known for their smooth, sweet, and tender roots. They are an excellent choice for those new to beet cultivation.
    4. Chioggia: Chioggia beets are not only easy to grow but also visually appealing with their pink and white striped flesh. They have a mild, sweet flavor.
    5. Golden: If you prefer golden beets, the Golden variety is an easy-to-grow option. They have a milder flavor than red beets and add a vibrant color to your garden and dishes.
    6. Bull’s Blood: While primarily grown for their attractive, deep red foliage, Bull’s Blood beets also produce small, sweet roots. They’re an excellent choice for gardeners interested in edible and ornamental crops.
    7. Red Ace: Red Ace beets are easy to grow and offer consistent, good-quality beets with a sweet taste. They have deep red flesh and work well in various culinary applications.

    These beet varieties are forgiving, relatively pest- and disease-resistant, and well-suited for novice gardeners. They’re an excellent choice for getting started with beet cultivation.

    A slice beet root showing the inside with lovely concentric circles. The beets rest on a rustic blue table table.

    Where to buy Beet Seeds:

    We like to buy all our seeds from reputable sources like Veseys, McKenzie, Burpee, Baker Creek, etc. Any reputable seller will have many different types of beet varieties to choose from.

    If you live in Canada, one of our new favorites is The Incredible Seed Company. I am giving them a shout-out because I have been ordering their seeds for two years and have had great results. I’m not affiliated with them; I just really like their company.

    Tips for Successful Beet Growth

    Regularly Water Your Beet Plants

    It is crucial to keep your beets hydrated for optimal growth and flavor. Regular watering is essential, especially during dry spells or hot weather. Beets require consistent moisture levels in the soil to develop their sweet taste and grow properly. Keep a check on the moisture content of the soil and aim to provide approximately one inch of water every week.

    Mulch Around the Plants

    Mulching is a great technique to help your beet plants retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Apply a layer of thick organic mulch, such as straw or compost, around the base of each plant. Mulching will help hold moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation and preventing weeds from competing with your beets for nutrients, full sun, and space.

    Beet row without mulch. You can see the young grass seedlings and other weeds emerging. It will be a constant challenge to keep up with the weeds in the row as the beets grow and develop. A layer of mulch will greatly reduce weeding and help the beets retain all that moisture and nutrition for themselves.
    Beet row without mulch. You can see the young grass seedlings and other weeds emerging. It will be a constant challenge to keep up with the weeds in the row as the beets grow and develop. A layer of mulch will greatly reduce weeding and help the beets retain all that moisture and nutrition for themselves.

    By following these tips for successful beet growth, you’ll increase your chances of growing healthy and delicious beets in your garden. Remember to provide regular watering, apply mulch around the plants for moisture retention and weed suppression, and thin out seedlings for optimal root development.

    Step-by-Step Instructions for Planting Beets

    Prepare the soil

    Remove any debris from the soil and loosen it with a garden fork. Cleaning debris will help create a loose and well-draining environment for your beet plants to thrive.

    Plant beet seeds directly into the ground

    You can plant sugar beets by sowing the seeds directly into the prepared soil. Plant seeds at a depth of ½ inch (1.25 cm). By planting them at this depth, you give them the ideal conditions they need to germinate and grow successfully.

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    Space the seeds properly.

    When planting beet seeds, it is important to space them correctly. Leave about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between each thin seedling. This spacing allows each seedling enough room to develop without overcrowding. Leave 12 inches (30 cm) of space between rows to provide ample growing space for your beets.

    Gardener planting beet seeds into fertile soil.

    Water regularly

    Beets require consistent moisture for optimal growth. Ensure you water your beet plants regularly, especially during dry spells or hot weather conditions. Keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering, which can lead to rotting or fungal diseases.

    Thin seedlings, if necessary

    After your beet seedlings have sprouted and grown a few inches tall, you should thin them out. Remove some of the weaker beet seedlings in overcrowded areas, giving more space for the remaining plants to grow larger and more robust. Thinning will help the beets thrive and produce a better yield.

    Good spacing and excellent air circulation of young beet plants due to appropriate early spacing.  Lovely bright purple red beet stems with bright green leaves.
    Good spacing and excellent air circulation of young beet plants due to appropriate early spacing.

    Be Sure To Add Some Organic Fertilization or Compost

    Beets benefit from a balanced fertilizer with a lower nitrogen content and higher phosphorus and potassium levels. A 5-10-10 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) fertilizer is a good choice. Apply it at the time of planting and again when the plants are about 3-4 inches tall.

    Conclusion and Additional Resources

     By choosing the right location, following our tips for successful beet growth, and using our step-by-step instructions for planting, you’ll soon have a bountiful harvest of delicious beets to enjoy. Remember, gardening is a journey, so don’t be discouraged if you encounter challenges. With patience and perseverance, you’ll become a beet-growing expert in no time!

    For further guidance and inspiration on your beet-growing adventure, we recommend checking out the following resources:

    Learn More About Beets:

    See our guide: how to harvest beets to last through the winter. The post has everything you need to know to pick those beets at optimal freshness and tips to store beets. If you want your winter harvest of beets to last, this post is a must-read.

    Here is my personal favorite beet canning recipe that I make dozens of quarts of every single year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

    Did you know you can grow beets in containers? You can, but there are a few different growing requirements. Check out our guide for container-grown beets before you get started.

    And lastly, don’t forget to add a few beet companion plants to your garden beds or rows to help with pests and vigor!

    Harvesting beets from a field.  A gardener has a bunch of ripe beets in a gloved hand as they walk the field.  Other beets are still growing.


    How often should I water my beet plants?

    Beet plants require consistent moisture throughout their growth cycle. Water them deeply once or twice a week, ensuring the soil remains evenly moist but not soaked through.

    What’s the Difference Between Sugar Beets and Table Beets?

    The primary difference between sugar and regular beets is their sugar content and intended use. Sugar beets are grown for their high sugar content and are used in sugar production, while regular beets are cultivated for their edible roots and greens, making them a common ingredient in various culinary applications.

    When should I harvest my beets?

    Beets are typically ready for harvest around 8-10 weeks after planting. The ideal size for harvesting beets is when they reach about 1-3 inches in diameter. You can harvest baby beets earlier to roast mid-summer as a treat!

    Can I grow beets in containers?

    Yes, you can grow beets in containers as long as the containers are at least 8-10 inches deep to accommodate their root growth. Choose a variety of fresh beets bred explicitly for container gardening, and ensure that the container has adequate drainage.

    How do I prevent pests from damaging my beet plants?

    To protect your beet plants from common beet pests like aphids and leaf miners, consider using pest control methods such as organic neem oil or insecticidal soap. Practicing crop rotation and maintaining good garden hygiene can help minimize pest infestations.

    Can I eat the beet greens?

    Absolutely! Beet greens are not only edible but also highly nutritious. They can be added raw to salads, sautéed as a delicious side dish, or even added to stir fry. Just harvest them early spring, when they’re young and tender, for the best flavor.


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