Beetroots are packed with nutrients, they are easy to grow and can be enjoyed year round. Pick them fresh from the garden any time between May and late autumn. They are a fantastic storer so you can continue munching into them by taking them from storage until March. If you're a pickler then eating them pickled from March to May completes the year.
There are four main types of beetroot:
- Red - The most popular type and the type you are most likely to come across at your local supermarket.
- White - A Dutch variety that is super super sweet.
- Golden - Mild and sweet. Great for roasting.
- Chioggia - A traditional Italian variety, much more mellow tasting than other varieties.
Growing them under fleece from late February will give you a May harvest but it is best to wait until frosts have gone in the UK around late March.
From then you can start sowing in uncovered ground right up to the end of July. They can also be started off in seed trays and planted out when established with a few true leaves, but we've found this slows down their growth quite considerably. Beetroot is also a great plant for containers, with their purple and green leaves giving more visual appeal that most veg.
Sow seeds thinly in drills that have been watered beforehand. A heavy watering afterwards can wash out your seeds.
Beetroot seeds will take about two weeks to germinate. Thin intermediate plants when they are about 10cm (4in) by simply cutting the tops. You can add the leaves for a tasty addition to salads.
Prevent an abundant harvest by sowing every couple of weeks. This will allow you to have fresh beets all summer long.
Young beetroot seedlings don't need a consistently moist soil but you should avoid the soil drying out completely.
Overwatering beetroots encourages fungal growth in the soil and it may hinder their growth.
Once your beets start to become established they require a little more watering, they are after all 88% water!.
Depending on variety, beetroot is ready to be picked when the roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball - this can be as little as 45 days for baby beets but is usually around 90 days after sowing.
Allowing them to grow too large will result in them taking on a woody flavour.
Watering the soil the day before harvesting always makes for pulling them easier. Simply yank them from the soil.
If you are using them straight away then you should wash upon lifting them but if you are storing them then let the soil dry so it can be brushed off later once the soil has dried. They should be stored in a cool but moist place. They are a heavily water based root and dry storing them will simply dry them out. Beets kept in an airtight container in the fridge should last for up to three months.
- Boltardy - Our best selling beetroot! An RHS AGM winner.
- Barbabietola di Chioggia - The original Italian variety!
- Boldor F1 - A golden hybrid with outstanding seed germination.
- Avalanche F1 - A white hybrid that takes on a whole new taste for beets.