Growing Beets: How to Grow Beets Organically

Growing beets from seed is easily one of the most satisfying - and one of the easiest to grow - of all garden crops.

Beets are a very old vegetable, as their leaves were consumed even before written history took place. It was not until the 1800s that their nutritious deliciousness was discovered in France.

Beets enjoy cool weather, and do best when planted in early winter and spring. Full sun and a light but deep and well-drained soil are necessary for growing beets. It is difficult to find started beet plants in nurseries and garden centers, so your best option is to start plants from seed yourself.

Growing Beets: Plant Snapshot (Beta vulgaris)

growing beets
  • Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot famiily)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 60 to 65 days after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Forono, Warrior, Baby Bell, Merlin, Always Tender
  • Cold tolerance: Very Hardy to Hardy – will survive hard frosts and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Chenopodiaceae, leaf beet
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Bush Beans, Cabbage family, Lettuce, Onion family, Radish, Sage
    • Avoid: Mustard, Pole Beans
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Growing Beets: Planting the Seed

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Growing beets properly requires that the beet seeds be planted outside three or four weeks before the last frost is expected in your area. You’ll have an early summer crop by planting at this time.

Beet seeds may also be planted in late summer for a wonderful fall harvest. When choosing between seed varieties, know that “old” beets tend to be more fibrous than the soft, buttery texture that is common with young beet varieties.

In order to plant beet seeds, they must first be soaked for a period of 24 hours. This helps the seeds to germinate.

You’ll want to water newly planted seeds every two weeks. Beware of overwatering beet plants, for this can result in excess foliage. On the other hand, too little water will result in poor yield and hard buttons of beets with a woody taste.

Snapshot: Planting Beets

  • Planting depth: about 1 inch (2.54 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 50 to 85 degrees F (10 to 29 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 5 to 10 days
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Growing Beets: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Beets are one vegetable that will grow and flourish for almost every gardener. As with other crops, the addition of compost or aged manure to a bed of young beet plants can improve your yield even further. But do NOT use a high nitrogen fertilizer, as this causes beets to produce lush leaves and small roots.

The beet seeds you buy are actually several individual seeds in one dried fruit, so these plants will grow very close together unless they are thinned, and a pair of scissors is the perfect tool for thinning beets.

Once the plants reach a height of about 2 inches, clip the leaves (save them for salads!) and leave the space between the plants’ leaves about 3 to 4 inches apart.
Do not let the soil dry out in your beet bed. Beets need continuous moisture to be evenly spread across their growing area.

Snapshot: Growing Beets

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.5
  • Growing soil temperature: 65 to 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C)
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Growing Beets: Harvesting Time

You can harvest beets at any time during their growth cycle.

A lot depends on whether you are growing beets for their greens or their roots. The greens are best when the plant is about 4 to 6 inches tall. The roots taste the best after they have been growing for about 40 to 50 days.

You want the roots to be between 1 ¼ to 2 inches in diameter for the best texture and taste.

If you are going to be storing your beet harvest for any length of time, pick them when the soil is a bit dry so less of it will cling to the roots.

Snapshot: Harvesting Beets

  • Time to harvest: About 8-12 weeks after planting
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Storing Beets and Freezing Beets

Beets are not difficult to store.

Beet greens are usually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 to 4 days for optimum freshness.

Beet roots may be washed before storage, but need to be completely dry before they are stored. The beet tops should be cut off about 2 inches above the beet roots.
Refrigerated beet roots in a plastic bag will last about one to two weeks. Beet roots can also be frozen, but the quality is somewhat diminished.

To prepare beets for freezing, trim the tops only. This prevents color bleeding while cooking. Cook beet roots in boiling water until they are tender. Plunge the roots into a cold water bath when tender, then peel, making sure to take off the root and stem.

Finally, cut the roots into the desired size and freeze in plastic freezer bags.
Beet seeds will last up to 4 years if kept cool and dry.

Snapshot: Storing Beets & Freezing Beets

  • Storage temperature: 32 to 40 degrees F (0 to 4.4 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 90 to 95% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 2 to 4 months
  • Storage life (frozen): Up to 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 4 years
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Growing Beets: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Beets. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.


  • Aphids
  • Army Worms
  • Beet Leaf Miner
  • Blister Beetle
  • Carrion Beetle
  • Cutworm
  • Empoasca Leafhopper
  • False Chinch Bug
  • Flea Beetle
  • Grasshopper
  • Leaf Hopper
  • Lygus Bug
  • Mangold Flies
  • Pale Striped Flea Beetle
  • Rodents
  • Rust
  • Swift Moth
  • Webworms
  • White Grubs
  • Yellow Wilt Leafhopper


  • Alternaria Leaf Spot
  • Beet Mosaic
  • Beet Petiole Borer
  • Beet Western Yellows
  • Beet Yellow Net
  • Beet Yellow Stunt
  • Beet Yellow Vein
  • Black Root
  • Cercospora Leaf Spot
  • Crusting
  • Curly Top
  • Damping Off
  • Dodder
  • Downy Mildew
  • Fusarium Yellows
  • Garden Symphylan
  • Lettuce Infectious Yellows
  • Magnesium Deficiency
  • Molybdenum Deficiency
  • Nitrogen Deficiency
  • Phoma Leaf Spot
  • Phosphorus Deficiency
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Ramularia Leaf Spot
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Rhizotonia Root and Crown Rot
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