How to grow... Beetroot
Rocket Growing Guides
Beetroot is delicious and colourful, and what’s more, it’s pretty easy to grow. This root veg does not need a huge amount of attention, or space as their roots do not go deep and they can be planted close together. You could happily grow 10-20 plants in a shallow planter, for example. They store quite well too, and pulling up your homegrown beets is one of the simplest pleasures in life.
- Planting Tips
- Common Problems
- Chef's Corner
Choose a sunny site
Beets are best grown in a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil.
Grow in raised beds, traditional plots or containers/planters
Beetroots are easy to squeeze in wherever you have space. They don’t need much depth for their roots, so can even be grown in a shallow container. If you are growing them in pots, make sure they have about 15cm space each.
How far apart?
Plant beetroots 10-15cm apart
Keep soil moisture consistent
They need water, but not too much. Try not to let the soil dry out or fluctuate between being very dry and very waterlogged – During dry spells, water well, two or three times a week.
Weed between plants
Use an onion hoe to carefully weed between plants, without disturbing the beetroot themselves.
When to harvest
Beetroot is quite quick to grow and can be harvested a few weeks after planting. The best thing to do is check one of your beets when you think they’re ready, approx 4-5 weeks after planting. If you can’t see the crown of the root above the soil, then carefully dig one up with a garden fork, loosening the roots before you pull it up to check the size. Anything between ping pong ball size and cricket ball size is good. The leaves are edible too, use them as you would spinach/chard.
Beetroot stores well over winter. The easiest thing to do is pop them in a vegetable crate or sack and store them in a cool, dark place – an unheated outbuilding is perfect. Larger roots will store longer.
You may notice some chocolate brown/purple spots appearing on beetroot leaves. This is a form of fungal leaf spot that is more likely to affect you if you’re in a wet but mild part of the country, like Cornwall, for example.
It’s not really a major problem, and tends to be more of an issue because it is aesthetically unappealing (you can still eat the leaves, cooked, if they have a few spots on and it shouldn’t affect the roots). You can pick off and remove affected leaves to try and prevent spread.
If, when you harvest your beetroot, you see that they are split and have a big crack in them, this is undoubtedly caused by the plant being subjected to very wet and then very dry soil. It’s annoying, but at least you can still eat them!
Rats, Mice & Voles
You may get a nasty surprise when you pull up your beetroots and find that most of the root has been nibbled away. Rodents have a sneaky habit of tunnelling underground and getting to the root whilst leaving the leaves growing happily above the surface. Try to keep rodent levels to a minimum in the plot!
Beetroot stores well over winter. The easiest thing to do is twist the leaves off, leave them unwashed and pop them in a vegetable crate or sack. Store them in a cool, dark place – an unheated outbuilding is perfect. Larger roots will store longer.
If you’re not storing them for a long time, you can harvest them and keep them in the fridge or veg basket for a few days in the kitchen.
Ways to cook
We cannot recommend enough roasted beetroot. They have such sweet flavour, and it makes a real change from potatoes and parsnips with a Sunday Roast.
Raw beetroot is good for adding to salads – grated and mixed with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
You can also add cooked beetroot to homemade hummus before blending it – you get a lovely colour!