Beets are cool season vegetables that are delicious both for their bulbous roots and their nutrient- packed leafy greens. With their attractive bright green to variegated foliage, red stems and veining, beets are a colorful vegetable to grow on the patio or porch for use as a decorative, as well as food producing, plant. Growing beets in containers is simple and easy. Use these beet-planting tips so you can plant them in the spring and fall and enjoy a double harvest of this double-producing vegetable.
Select containers that are at least 10-12 inches deep to provide adequate space for the under-ground growing beet. Container should be at least 6 inches wide to accommodate above-ground leaf growth. Ensure container have plenty of drainage holes in the bottom and cover them with coffee filters to prevent soil from leaching out during watering.
Fill containers with potting soil amended with organic matter like compost. While they are tolerant of low fertility, beets like well-draining soil and aeration. A mix of 50/50 potting soil and compost will provide beets with ideal growing conditions. Place containers in a location that will receive direct morning sunlight and filtered afternoon sunlight.
Plant beet seeds ¾’s inch deep in rows spaced about a 10 inches apart. Seedlings will emerge within five to eight days. Thin seedlings when they are 4-5 inches tall to 10 inches apart in all directions. Don’t toss the seedlings away, they are edible. Cut, don’t pull, the seedlings out when thinning them, pulling can damage the edible roots of abutting plants.
Beets thrive in soil that is less than ideal, so do not feed these plants. Fertilize will cause too much leaf growth and not enough beet growth. Water only when top 2 inches of soil is dry in the container. Apply water at the base of the plant and keep plants thinned to allow air circulation. Beets are susceptible to root rot, cercospora leaf spot, and scab, all of which can be avoided by refraining from wetting the foliage and over watering.
Beets can be harvested at any stage of growth, but are sweetest when stems are about 6 inches tall and beets are about 1-2 inches in diameter. Wet soil, then grasp beet at plant base and rock back and forth until it comes up out of the soil. Snip stem off beet, then snip off leaves.
Eat leaves raw or sauteed, roast bulbs to bring out their natural sweetness.