How to grow your own beetroot
Beetroot are easy to grow and have a wide variety of uses. They also have a long season if follow on sowings are made regularly. Choose a sunny site with well cultivated soil and plant between March and July for the best results.
When and where to grow beetroot
- When to sow: March to July
- When to harvest: June to October
- Ready in: 3 months
- Challenge level: Easy – great for beginners!
Beetroot thrives in well-drained garden soil but still requires fertile conditions. You can ensure the soil is suitable for beetroot by digging in well-rotted garden compost or organic matter such as a little fish, blood and bone. Avoid soil with too much lime or acidity.
How to plant beetroot
Sow the seeds 2.5cm apart in rows, on a firm seed bed 2.5cm deep. Leave 30cm between rows. Begin sowing the round rooted varieties in March or April once the soil is warm enough. Cylindrical rooted varieties can be sown in late May, lifted and stored for winter use. Carry out follow on sowings every two to three weeks until late July.
How to grow beetroot
Seeds will need plenty of water for germination, so once sown, water daily until the leaves begin to sprout. Overwatering can cause beetroot to grow more leaves and less roots, which in turn creates a risk of “bolting”, where the plants flower but do not produce a vegetable, so water in moderation.
If space is at a premium in your garden, you can also grow beetroot in containers. Sow in March at 10cm spacings. The young leaves can be used as ‘spinach’. Drying out can be a common problem when growing in containers, so ensure a regular water supply. Take care not to flood the containers and equally, not to allow a drought.
Caring for beetroot
Early in the year, sowings benefit from protection. Horticultural fleece or cloches are good for this. Beetroot have clusters of seedlings arising from one seed so they should be thinned to one seedling once they are large enough to handle. Water the rows after thinning to settle the remaining plants in. The thinning’s can be used as salad leaves. Hoe regularly between the rows and hand weed between the plants as necessary. In dry spells, water every 10 to 14 days.
Begin to use the roots once they are the size of a golf ball. Thin the rows to leave room for the remaining plants to grow larger, to the size of a tennis ball.
Beetroot is largely unaffected by pests and diseases, making them even easier to grow. It’s always worth keeping an eye out for slugs and snails as well as covering plants to avoid feeding the local birds (pigeons especially).