Pickled beets might be one of my favourite pickles and there’s not many things in the vegetable patch that are nicer than harvesting smaller roots and taking them right to the kitchen for processing.
Where to Plant
In full sun in a loose, sandier soil. Heavier (clay) soils are tough to grow in.
When to Plant
If you really like them, sow every two weeks from the earliest time you can sow seeds in your garden (as soon as you can work your garden soil without it staying “clumpy” – usually about a month after snow melts. Sow regularly until the middle of July.
If you want extra early crops, you can sow them in a cold frame and transplant to the garden but this is a lot of work and will only give you a week to two week advantage over soil-sown plants. While this may have a commercial value, in the home garden it is a lot of work for very little.
How to Plant
Beet seed does not rot as quickly as more tender seed and it does start to grow along with spinach, lettuce and peas (other early sown vegetables). It will not grow if the soil is colder than 4-5C (40F) but will sit until it warms up.
If you want to store or pickle them in the fall, count back 10 weeks from your harvest date and plant the crop then.
Sow seed approximately 1.2 cm (1/2-inch) deep.
Care & Maintenance
Harvest (on average) when the tops are 15 cm (6-inches) tall. This will give you the most tender root. If you leave the crop to get really big, there is an increased risk of the root getting “woody” and not as sweet to eat.
If there are heavy rains after a long dry hot spell, you might find white rings in the beet. It is still edible although not cosmetically perfect.
One ounce (28 g) will grow 100 feet of row. At 2 to 3-inch spacing, this translates to 400 plants in a 30 m (100-foot) row. If you are growing tiny plants for pickling, shorten this interval to 2 cm apart. Lengthen or shorten the row depending on the number of vegetables you’re going to eat.
It is far cheaper to purchase seeds than to purchase starter plants from a greenhouse. This plant is very easy to grow.
The seeds can be saved from year to year if you keep the seed dry and cool. Do not freeze the seed.
You can store the roots in the refrigerator for several months without any loss of quality.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cn
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm