Beetroot

How to grow beetroot

Discover how to sow, grow, harvest and store beetroot in this practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do Sow in June

Do Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    5-8kg per 3m row

  • Spacing

    10cm apart

    30cm between rows

  • Depth

    1cm

Everyone knows the round red roots of beetroot, but this crop is available in a range of colours and flavours. Provided you can deter slugs and snails, it’s easy to grow and stores well for many months. Plus, young leaves make a tasty addition to salads or can be steamed, as spinach.

Advertisement
Beetroot is better harvested too early rather than too late – younger roots are more tender.

Growing beetroot from seed

thinning-beetroot-seedlings-2
Thinning beetroot seedlings

How and where to sow beetroot

Sow beetroot seeds outdoors from mid-April to late June, into a shallow drill, 1cm deep. Space seeds 10cm apart, with 30cm between rows. Being a root crop, it does best if the soil is free of large stones, and prefers light to fairly heavy soil.

For an early beetroot crop, select a variety known for its resistance to bolting, and sow under cloches from the beginning of March.

It’s worth ‘station sowing’ beetroot to ensure a good crop. This means sowing two seeds at each location and thinning later to one seedling – the thinned seedlings are delicious eaten raw in salads. Label the row, then water along its length.

Beetroot grows well in large containers of sifted garden soil or high-quality compost such as John Innes No.2. It’s an attractive crop and perfect for an ornamental kitchen garden.

Care

Water the beetroot regularly for a bigger crop, less tendency towards woodiness and to help prevent the roots splitting. Hoe regularly to keep the row weed free, taking care not to damage the crop’s roots.

harvesting-beetroot-7
Harvesting beetroot

Harvesting beetroot

Growing different varieties of beetroot allows you to enjoy the crop over a long period, without having to store it. Most of the globe types are ready to harvest in 8-10 weeks; longer, cylindrical varieties take nearer 20 weeks.

When harvesting beetroot, grasp the foliage firmly where it meets the top of the root and pull. Beetroot is better harvested too early rather than too late – younger roots are more tender. Pull roots the size of a cricket ball or smaller and store only those that are undamaged. After lifting, twist off foliage about 5cm from root, leaving short stalks.

Beetroot storage

Store only undamaged roots. Place your beetroots in a box filled with a peat alternative, and place in a cool shed. They should last right through to March.

Beetroot: preparation and uses

Wash gently in cold water, leaving on the long root and taking care not to pierce the skin. This prevents ‘bleeding’ during cooking. Beetroot can be boiled for one to two hours, depending on age, then drained and peeled, or try it wrapped in foil and baked in a low oven for around two hours. It’s delicious with cold meats or in salads with goats’ cheese.

Beetroot: problem solving

Seedlings can be eaten at the base as they emerge, by slugs and snails. Apply biological-control nematodes or grow the crop in a large container or bag of clean soil or compost out of reach of hungry molluscs. A barrier of crushed eggshells may reduce losses. The bright young leaves of the seedlings can be appealing to birds, so you may consider netting the seedlings before they are fully established.

Advertisement

Top tip

Add the tasty seedling thinnings to salads and juice raw beetroot, mixed with carrot juice for a refreshing, nutrient-rich drink

32481
A collection of vibrant beetroot varieties

Great beetroot varieties to grow

  • ‘Blankoma’ – unusual white and green roots
  • ‘Chioggia’ – red exterior, pink and white concentric rings inside
  • ‘Cylindra’ – elongated roots that are dark pink on the outside and pink within
  • ‘Globe 2’ – dark crimson roots, with a wide neck and a distinctive point at the end
  • ‘Kestrel’ – classic red roots that are good mature or eaten as baby beets
  • ‘Pablo’ – rich red roots with smooth skin
  • ‘Red Ace’ – deep red flesh, this variety will thrive in dry conditions