How to grow Beetroot

Healthy Eating Advisor
Ask Felicity

16 June 2015

Choosing a plot

Beetroot grows best in light soil and in full sun. However, it can tolerate partial shade and heavier soil. If your soil has a lot of clay in it, then loosening it regularly should still produce good beetroot. The optimum soil pH is 6.5-7.0. Plant the seeds with plenty of room around them and be aware that you may have to thin the plots once the plants begin to grow.

Beetroot can also be grown in pots, providing the pot is at least 8 inches wide and deep.

Planting seeds

Beetroot seeds should be sown about 2cm into the ground, and with about 5-10cm between seeds. If you are looking for a continuous harvest, plant seeds every 14 days. Seeds can be planted until mid-July.

If you have started your beetroot in a pot, this can easily be transplanted into the garden.  There should be a fully established root system, and at least two sets of true leaves before it is ready to be transplanted. Seedlings should be transplanted into moist ground.

Nurturing your seeds

The biggest problem facing beetroot  is from birds devouring your precious seeds or seedlings. This is why some people choose to start growing their beetroot under a cloche.  Once the seedling has grown to about 8cm high, the birds seem to lose interest in snacking on the beetroot.

When the seedlings are young, it is important to keep the plants well-watered. Once the plants are showing leaves, it is not necessary to water the plants as much, as normal rainfall should be sufficient.

Harvesting beetroot

Both the leaves and the root of the beetroot plant can be eaten. Some people thin the beetroot crop once the plants are about 3 inches high, as it is at this stage that the leaves are tender, and there are edible roots which are very small, but very sweet. 

The main crop should be harvested once the root is just bigger than a golf ball. This will be around 8 weeks after sowing. The leaves should not be cut off at the root. Instead, remove the leaves by twisting them off approximately 5 cm above the crown.

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