How to Plant Beets in the Garden

Here’s how to plant beets so you can harvest fresh bunches of crimson red or golden beets.

Also read: When to Plant What, Planning your Garden, Freezing Beets

I like to plant several varieties over several weeks so I can enjoy as many flavors, colours and patterns as possible all summer long.

From left to right, Bull’s Blood, Touchstone Gold, Detroit Dark beets. Beautiful colours to enjoy.

The Bull’s Blood beets have great color on the root but they also feature dark red leaves providing a nice contrast to most other beets which have green leaves with deep red or gold veins.  Of course, those greens can be harvested and eaten as well.

Beet Seeds

First, things first, the seeds. Here’s a look at beet seeds. These gnarly little seeds look like little vertebrae. These vertebrae are actually capsules that contain 2-4 individual seeds each. When they’re planted, the capsules break down allowing the individual seeds to grow. This explains why, even though you may be diligent about spacing your beet seeds properly, you still end up with tight clusters of beets.

beet seeds
Beet seeds look like tiny vertebrae. These vertebrae are little capsules that hold 2-4 seeds. But don’t split them open! Seed them as they are, they’ll split open all by themselves.

The entire process of germination takes about 10-14 days.

Once the beets have sprouted in about 10-14 days, you’ll need to cull or thin the seedlings as they come up.

When to Plant Beets

Earthy and sweet, beets are a cool weather crop that are planted directly into the soil as early as two weeks or so before the last frost free day in your zone. And, because they’re a fast growing crop, maturing between 50-60 days, you can keep seeding them into early summer to get multiple harvests.  For us in Winnipeg (Zone 3), that means we can plant the first crop around mid May. We can keep reseeding until mid July, although they will grow slower in high heat.

Days to Germination

You’ll see beets start to poke out of the ground in 10 -14 days.

Days to Maturity

They’ll be ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days depending on type of beets.

You can harvest the greens at 20 to 25 days and onward.

Where to Plant

Full sun is best but beets will tolerate some shade.

How to Plant

Direct seed into the garden, do not start indoors and try to transplant beets, root crops like beets don’t transplant well.

Seed Spacing

Space seeds 1″ (2.5 cm) apart. Remember you’re planting a capsule that has multiple seeds in it, so leave the right amount of space! Later, you’ll want to thin the beets so they’re 3 to 4″ (8 cm) apart so they don’t crowd each other out.

beet and cutworm
Unfortunately, the cutworms will get some plants! Just helps with thinning them out, I guess.

Spacing Between Rows

Space rows 12-16″ (30-40 cm) apart. By the way, your row doesn’t have to be perfectly straight. Just sayin’!

beet seeds in a row

Depth of Seed

Plant them 1/2″ (2 cm) deep. Gently tap soil covering the seeds.

Companion Planting

Plant beets next to: leeks, onions, radishes, lettuce, bush beans, garlic, cabbage family, mint

Don’t plant beets next to: pole beans (it’s okay to plant them next to bush beans).

Special Tips for Planting Beets:

  • Work the soil really well where you will plant beets. Go deeper and wider than necessary to loosen the soil so the tender beetroots can easily push their way through. This photo shows how I used a rake to rough up a deep trench for the beets.  Remember the seeds should only be covered in 1/2″ (2 cm) of soil, so I’ll fill most of this trench with soil before I place in the seeds, but the soil is loosened and ready for the roots to grow.

roughing up the soil

  • Water the seeds and young seedlings consistently for optimum growth – or hope for spring rains.
  • Compost mixed into the soil is always a bonus, although beets tolerate just about anything except acidic soil and drought.
  • Beets, like most vegetables, don’t like competing for water and nutrients with weeds, so keep your beet crop weed free all season long.
  • To help break down the seed capsule soak seeds in water or lay them between two wet sheets of paper towel the night before planting.  It’s not necessary, but will speed up germination.
  • Beets will take a while to show themselves, so remember to mark your rows!

beet marker

In about 12 to 14 days you should see little beet greens poking out of the ground.

beets june 7 - watermarked

beets in a row - watermarked

Beet Info

  • Beets have among the highest sugar content of all veggies, but are relatively low in calories and packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants.
  • The earthy flavor comes from an organic compound produced by microbes in the soil. (Wisconsin College of Agriculture)
  • The powerful pigments in beets give them gorgeous colours but also great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Beets can help with hangovers thanks to one of its pigments – worth a try!
  • You can make your own beet root powder to add to various dishes.
  • Beets dye just about everything red- including your urine or BM – don’t be alarmed!
different beets
In this photo from left to right, Touchstone Gold, Bull’s Blood and Candy Cane beets – all delicious! 

Are you growing beets this year?  What variety are you going growing?

Here are a few other How To’s to get your gardening going:

How to Plant Corn

How to Plant Kale

How to Plant Bush Beans

How to Plant Onions

How to Plant Leeks

How to Plant Tomatoes

How to Plant Carrots

How to Plant Peas

How to Plant Garlic

Top 5 Herbs for Your Garden

Grow Your Own Seasoning Blend

Grow Your Own Herbal Teas

When to Plant Different Vegetables

Share your favorite beet variety or uses for beets in the comments below or share your photos and ideas with me on instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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    1. Hi Jan,
      I do not soak my beet seeds before planting. That’s not to say you shouldn’t or couldn’t. If you do, I would recommend not to soak them more than 12 hours or so. It will speed up germination by a couple of days.
      Good luck and enjoy!

  1. Beets are the best! I plant Crosby’s Egyptian every year; they are tender and delicious. At the end of the summer they are large but never stringy, and store very well. I also like Cylindra, especially for pickling. The long roots cut easily into little slices, perfect for pickles. Ruby Queen is nice and round for whole baby beets, pickled or just cooked for supper. Yum!

    1. Ooh, can’t beet those tips! Hee, hee – you see what I did there!

      Great suggestions, Corrie. Thank you.

      I also like Bull’s Blood beets for their dark burgundy leaves – they look pretty and taste great.

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