When To Sow: February-March (indoors); April-July (direct seed) Harvest: June-October
Germination: 8-21 days Full Sun
Beetroot prefers light, sandy soil in full sun, but will grow in pretty much any kind of soil and will even tolerate some shade. Prepare the site (ideally in autumn) by removing stones and perennial weeds (these can cause the roots to alter their shape). It’s fine to amend the soil with compost, but do not use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, as this will cause more energy to go to the leaves.
It helps to soak beetroot seeds overnight to improve germination.
Starting Indoors: Sow two seeds per module at a depth of 25mm (1”). Cover and water well, keeping the soil moist throughout the germination period. Thin to the strongest plant once they reach about 2cm (¾”) in height. (If you’re careful, you can replant the thinned out seedling.)
Once the seedlings have two true leaves they’re ready to harden off and transplant outside. Make sure to water the beetroot well before transplanting and to make sure they stay in their modules no more than three weeks.
Direct Seed: Plant two seeds at a depth of 2cm (¾”) every 10cm (4”) or so. Cover and water well. Once the seedlings reach about 2cm (¾”) in height, remove the weaker one of each pair.
For a constant supply, sow a new crop every month.
Beetroot is incredibly easy to grow. Just keep the soil weed free and the plants well watered (but not water logged). Beetroot has shallow roots that like to be kept moist. Mulch well and stay on top of the watering in times of drought, as beetroot can get hairy and fibrous if it goes through a long dry spell.
Harvest Forono beetroot when the roots are 7-10cm (6-8”) long (generally 12-16 weeks after sowing). The smaller roots are the tastiest, so try not to leave them in the ground too long after they‘ve reached the 7cm. If you have light soil, you can just pull the root up by the leaves. If your soil is more clayey, carefully use a fork to help lift the root.
It’s helpful to pull sporadically all along your row than to take all from one place (like thinning). This will give the remaining plants more room to grow. Make sure to twist the leaves off rather than cutting them, as this will prevent bleeding. (The leaves are quite tasty and nutritious, and can be cooked just like spinach.)
Does not do well with vining plants (i.e. runner beans, winter squash, etc.).