Growing Beets in Containers – The Simple and Easy Way
What beet variety should I grow? When should I plant beets? Where should I place the container?
Wait! How should I plant them anyways?
If you are here because you’re feeling ready to drop that can full of vinegary pickled beets and start cropping your own, congratulations!
Now please... drop the can.
Because you are about to learn how growing beets in containers is so simple.
When you least expect it, you’ll be enjoying those organic and juicy fresh beets right in the comfort of your own home. With that said, let’s proceed.
5 must-knows before “beeting” it!
Before you get started on your container beet growing adventure, take some time to consider the following points, they will help you 'beet' any mistakes:
Choosing the best beets to grow
Before choosing what beet to grow, you should be aware of the three main varieties of beet (beta vulgaris) available: the Swiss chard, sugar beet, and beetroot or beet.
The Swiss chard is distinguished by its broad leaves and chunky stems, and is used as a leafy vegetable.
The sugar beet has a somewhat elongated and irregular white to light-brown root, and is used as a source of sugar and animal feed.
Finally, the beetroot has a reddish-purple rounded root, and is mostly used as a root vegetable.
Gardening connoisseur William Woys Weaver endorses the following types of heirloom seeds for growing beetroot in kitchen gardens :
- Bassano or Chioggia Beet
- Crosby’s Improved Egyptian Beet
- Early Blood Turnip Beet
We can’t tell you what the best beet seed varieties are, because this will be intrinsically linked to your personal needs and preferences.
However, factors you may want to consider when choosing the right variety are future use, harvesting time, taste, and color.
If harvesting periods happen to be important for you, check out Gardener’s Path’s article on the top 17 beet seed varieties to plant this season.
Cracking Timing – When Exactly Do You Plant Beets?
- Preferably, the soil should be at a temperature of 50°F or 10°C at the time of planting. You can use a soil thermometer to monitor the temperature.
- Generally, you can plant beets somewhere between March and April or June and September, however the ideal time may vary depending on your location.
- If you want a constant supply of recently-picked beets, leave 20 days in between plantations.
Caring for the veggies – How to grow large beets
Bear in mind that, like other cool-season crops, beets are meant to grow in cold climates and are even able to tolerate moderate frost.
You want the soil to remain moist, without overwatering. Generally speaking, your beets should receive around 1 in3 or 16 mL of water per week. You can use a rain gauge to monitor rainfall. If interested in rain harvesting, read our list on the best rain barrels for smaller homes.
After a month of having planted the beets, or after they’ve reached 2” or 5 cm in height you can thin their plants to around 3” to 4” or 7cm to 10cm apart by trimming them with scissors, as shown below.
This is done to allow for proper growth, air circulation, and to ensure enough supply of nutrients for the plants.
Remember that you can use the cut leaves in salads, juices, or as garnish!
Collecting the harvest – How do you know when beetroot is ready to pick?
How to tell when beets are ripe is quite simple.
Beets are ready to harvest and eat once you are able to see their shoulders sticking out of the soil.
They usually reach maturity 50 to 70 days after having been sowed, but this will largely depend on climatic conditions and the seed variety being used.
Note that smaller beetroots will have a much more intense flavor than large ones, which often tend to go hard-bitten and dry.
FAQ's: how to plant beets? - How to propagate beets? - How to grow beetroot from bulbs?
There are two main methods you can use when growing beets: sprouting beet seeds, which is basically sowing the seeds into the soil, or growing beet tops in water to later transplant them into soil for them to take root.
In order to learn how to replant beets or grow beets from scraps, check out SFGate’s post on How to Grow a Beet in Water Without Seeds.
If you want to grow food, but are too short on space, take a glance at our articles on the benefits of backyard aquaponics and DIY aquaponics systems. If your considering a sustainable alternative but want to know more...come and take a look, and find out exactly what is the difference between aquaponics and hydroponics.
Keep scrolling so we can walk you through the process of how to plant beet seeds below.
What you’ll need to grow beets in containers
Before getting started make sure you have the following materials at hand:
What You Need
The container must have drainage holes in the bottom and be of at least 8” or 20 cm in depth, as this will allow the roots to grow freely and to their full potential.
Opt for clay containers instead of plastic whenever you can.
Clay pots won’t only provide healthy housing for your veggies, but they will also biodegrade quickly – making them the eco-friendly option.
Although moderately alkaline soils can often be endured by beets, the soil you purchase should ideally have a pH that ranges between 6.0 and 7.0, and be high in phosphorus.
Ask around in local community gardens, garden shops, or farmers markets to get your hands on some good quality soil.
Lastly, keep in mind that homemade compost or well-rotted manure can be used in place of commercial organic fertilizer.
If you decide to purchase commercial premix soil, using fertilizer won’t be necessary.
How to plant beet seeds: 6 straightforward steps to rooting them!
Knowing how to grow beets in containers was never this easy! The following steps shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to complete:
Step 1 - Getting the container ready
Pour the soil into the container.
Step 2 - Adding fertilizer
Add the organic fertilizer, homemade compost, or well-rotted manure to the soil in a 1 to 1 ratio, and mix. Omit this step if you have purchased commercial pre-mix soil.
Step 3 - Preparing the soil for planting
Compress and level the soil by using your hands.
Step 4 - Opening seed holes
Make holes that are 4” to 6” or 10 cm to 15cm apart from each other and 1/4” or 0.60cm in depth.
Step 5 - Planting seeds
Plant 2 to 3 seeds in each hole and cover them with soil.
Step 6 - Watering
Water the soil slightly to settle it.
Now you have planted your beet, your green thumb must be starting to throb! We think you may also like this awesome article on How To Grow Broccoli In Containers. Go and have a cheeky look and get your hands dirty once again!
Bonus: Can other veggies beat the beet?
What are some health benefits you can get from eating beets compared to other vegetables?
Cooking tips – How to eat beets
In salads, pastas, tarts, soups, burgers, juices, and even desserts… you can throw those luscious, container-grown beets of yours in almost everything you can imagine.
If you’re in need of some beet recipe ideas, take a look at Bon Appetit’s list of 45 beet dishes that will have you craving more.
Raw beets and their health benefits (+ beetroot juice benefits for Your skin)
Apart from being a versatile vegetable in the kitchen, beets are also known to provide loads of health benefits.
In fact, this root vegetable was widely used throughout history in European folk medicine.
The extract gathered from beet seeds, for instance, was used as a remedy for intestine tumors; while boiling seeds in water is said to fight against genital tumors.
Learn more about how beets have been used to combat diseases by reading the Folk Medicine section of Purdue University’s review of the vegetable.
When it comes to skin health, beetroot juice is known to moisturize dry skin, and reduce pigmentation and blemishes.
Read Organic Lifestyle magazine’s guide to root vegetables to compare their nutritional values and health benefits.
Bottom line: Praising the beta vulgaris
A lush vegetable deserves to be grown as such – in the terrace, roof, backyard, or garden of those who will eat it.
In this case – you!
We hope this article helped you in your beet venture.
If it did, remember to leave your thoughts, opinions, or doubts in the comment section below and to spread the vibrant beet seeds by sharing this article with all of those who eat... how clever!