Growing beets aren’t very difficult, and anyone can do it, even those who don’t have a clue about gardening. Beets are amongst the favourite veggies here in the UK. They are used as a side dish with meat and poultry, added to soups and salads, with goat’s cheese, and the list could go on forever. The hardest part of growing this veg is how do you know when it is ready to harvest.
It shouldn’t trouble you, though. Things are more simple. How do you know when to harvest broccoli, peas, cucumbers or cabbages? They have the best harvesting time and signs that help you understand that it’s time to pick the crops up. The same goes for beets. And we are about to share with you all the necessary details. Therefore, instead of buying them from the grocery store, learn first how to grow beetroot on your own and then read this article to know when it’s ready to harvest.
Table of Contents
What beetroot is and beet varieties
The beetroot is a taproot, cool-season crop also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, golden beet, dinner beet or simple beet. It has dark purple skin and pink/purple flesh. It is grown for its edible roots and leaves you can use like any other green, such as spinach, Swiss chard and kale. Plus, it’s a n excellent storage crop without requiring a root cellar to do it. You can simply store it in the fridge. Place the roots and the green tops in plastic bags, remove the air and keep them in the crisper drawer for 1 to 3 weeks.
There are several varieties. Some of the most popular are:
It’s the classic beetroot with deep purple, globe-shaped roots and a sweet taste. Its leaves are also edible. As a plus, it’s very resistant to extreme weather conditions and bolting. Therefore, you can plant it earlier than the other kinds.
Cylindra, as its name suggests, is a cylindrical beetroot with dark purple-red flesh, which you can slice evenly. For that reason, it is the perfect pickled vegetable. Its roots are sweet and resemble caramel in taste. Its leaves are sweeter than other beet leaves.
This beet is named after the Italian fishing village near Venice, where it was first cultivated. It’s a globe-shaped beetroot with dark green leaves. It has red and white rings and a sweet taste. You can use it as a hot vegetable or in salads with beet greens and red stems. As a plus, you can grow Chioggia all year round.
If you are a beginner gardener, this variety is the best for you as it is a very easy-to-grow crop. It produces smooth, globe-shaped roots with dark red skin and flesh. The best thing with this one, though, is that you can eat it both as baby beets or left to mature without becoming woody.
Benefits of beetroot
Beets are a fine root crop, easy-to-grow and very delicious. But there is more to know about them. They are also super nutritious with many health benefits.
- Beetroot can reduce high blood pressure.
- It helps those who suffer from heart problems.
- It can improve your exercise performance.
- It helps with cancer diseases.
- It helps with diabetes and dementia.
- It can help you maintain or lose weight.
- Beetroot consumption maintains potassium levels.
- It can fight inflammation.
- It strengthens the bones and muscles.
- Beet leaves and roots are a great source of fibre.
When is the right time to harvest beetroot?
Harvesting beets‘ best time depends on when the beet plants were sown and their growing temperatures. However, there’s a more crucial step you need to take before looking for the right time to harvest beets. You should keep track of when you first sow the beet seeds.
Beetroots are fast-growing root vegetables reaching maturity within two months. You can sow seeds in early spring. Having the proper temperature, germination will take place in 5 to 8 days. Then, it will take about 7-8 weeks for the beets to grow. After that period, you can harvest beets.
That’s somehow a general rule. But as you know, there are exceptions to every rule. Beets, as they grow, push up out of the ground, and you can see the top of the root. It’s similar to growing and harvesting carrots. Once the beet is on the level of the soil, beets are ready to be harvested. The best size to harvest beets is when their roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. Depending on the variety, that size is usually seen 90 days after sowing. You can harvest small beets when they’re at least 2.5cm in diameter and mature ones about 5-7.5cm.
Extra growing and caring tips
- Before planting, soak the beetroot seeds in water for 24 hours. This will speed up germination.
- Plant beetroot seeds in a full sun spot and prepare the soil with organic matter, like compost and manures.
- 2-3 weeks before planting, spread a general granular fertiliser across the area and rake into the soil.
- Store beetroots in moist sand, damp sawdust or damp peat moss in a wooden box or crate and a well-ventilated area, like a garage, to store them long term.
- When beetroot seedlings are about 2cm high, you need to thin the weakest and leave one every 10cm.
- Hold the tops and gently pull the leaves away from the soil while levering the root with a hand fork when harvesting beets.
- Add mulch around the plants to maintain moisture, especially when forming.
- Beets can also thrive in raised beds, pots or containers. Just make sure they don’t dry out.
Easy, right? After 7-8 weeks from planting beetroot seeds, you can start harvesting them. You should see the top of the roots coming off the ground. Its size should be at least 2.5 in diameter if you want to taste baby beets and about 5-7.5cm for matures. Don’t allow them to grow larger. If you wait for too long to harvest them, they become fibrous, soft and wrinkled. And one last piece of advice. When you harvest beets, eat some fresh. We promise you will taste the best flavour and get the highest nutritional value.