By Mara Higdon
By now all your warm season crops such as tomatoes and peppers have been in the ground and they are well on their way. And, you’re probably already looking forward to the cooler days of fall. With fall in mind, I plant beets in late July and August for a fall harvest!
Beets originated in the Mediterranean region and were traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Beets were not used for their beetroot till the 1600s. Used later as a source of sugar by Napoleon in the early 19th century, the agriculture industry has since improved beet varieties to increase the sugar content. Beet roots are good sources of folic acid, potassium and dietary fiber. Related to swiss chard, the beet tops are even better for you!
Beets are fond of light soil that drains well. They prefer to sit in the sun, but will do okay with partial shade. Beets do not transplant well, so direct seed at 2-3 week intervals to have a continuous harvest till cooler weather arrives. The seeds planted earlier in summer may grow faster due to the warmer temperatures, and the later seed may take a bit longer as the days get cooler.
Since you are planting beets in the summer, place the seeds at a depth of 1″ to protect them from drying out in the heat and ensure germination. As fall nears, plant the seeds a little shallower at a depth of ½”. If you were planting beets in the spring, you would do the opposite. Seeds should be spaced about 1″ from each other. Once the seeds have germinated, thin them to 2″. Beets can be planted in rows or broadcast over the planting area. If you broadcast seed be sure to thin them later.