Beets are a cool-season crop that tends to be half-hardy to light freezes and frosts. Since the plant is so adaptable to cold weather, it tends to thrive just about anywhere at different times of the year and is an ideal crop for our cold Canadian winters and cool Canadian springs. Beets are related to Spinach and Chard and have rightly earned the nickname “The Blood Turnip” due to the deep red of its root! They’re a colourful and delicious way to add some life to your garden and will need to be thinned several times through their growing cycle.
When to Plant
You can plant your beets as soon as the ground thaws. Ideally, beets are planted a month before the last frost in your region. 50F is the perfect temperature for these seeds to germinate. If you start seeding early, you can plant in 2-week intervals to keep harvesting fresh greens well into the fall. Remember, as the weather heats up, watering becomes more vital. You’ll be required to thin your plants at least twice during the growing process, once at 4-6″ tall where you’ll have to thin to 1 1/2″ between sprouts and finally when the root reaches 1″ in diameter depending on the size of Beet you wish to harvest.
How to Plant
When it’s time to plant your beets, dig a trench approximately 1/2″ deep and set your rows between 12-18″ apart. Remember that your seeds are small compact balls, so it’s not uncommon to get several plants at each plant point. When planting, be sure to leave 4-6″ for spacing.
Your Beets will grow best at 65F and, it’s vital to use row cover to keep the moisture around your plants. As the root matures, its shoulders will peek out through the earth, and this can cause yellowing or white due to sun bleaching. To avoid yellowing, add mulch around your beets liberally. Remember when thinning your greens will be edible as early as 35 days. Your root will be ready to harvest approximately a month later.
How to Harvest
Beets should be ready to harvest approximately 60 days after seeding. Ultimately the size of the root you’re looking to obtain will determine when you’re going to harvest your plants, but they’ll be ready for harvest as soon as the shoulders start peeking out from under the ground. Beet leaves tend to taste the best when they’re in the 6″ range and are a great and flavourful addition to any salad.
To store your beets, always wash them in cool water and use a sharp knife or scissors to trim all but the first inch of leaves from the top of the root and LEAVE the taproot intact, then store trimmed Beets in the fridge or your cellar for several months.
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