The beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is grown primarily for its edible taproot but the leafy tops are nutritious as well. The plant and its root are commonly called “beet.” Beets are versatile and so nutritious! Growing beets in the Square Foot Garden is easy and fun. They can be grown in spring, summer and fall, making them one of the most versatile of all vegetables.
You can plant nine beet seed per square foot for large plants. Plant 16 beet seed per square foot for smaller beets. It will take approximately eight weeks from seed to harvest.
They can be planted in partial shade or full sun. Sow your seeds directly into the Square Foot Garden; beets do not transplant well. Store your extra beet seeds for 4-5 years!
“Each seed in the packet is actually a cluster of two to five individual seeds, so several sprouts will come up from each seed planted. Plant one presoaked seed in each space ½ inch deep three weeks before the last spring frost. To have a continuous harvest, plant a square every three weeks except in the hottest part of the summer. After the sprouts are about 1 inch tall, cut off all except the strongest plant from each seed cluster.” (~All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, page 211)
Beets need “constant and even moisture.” Pick off any damaged leaves as they appear. If the weather is very hot, mulch around your plants to keep the soil cooler.
You can eat the green tops of beets, while the beet itself continues to grow underground. Do this by harvesting select leaves here and there from different plants. If you harvest all the leaves at once, you will kill the plant. Many people wait and harvest the entire plant at once – beet root and tops. Dig around the root with your fingers to check the size of the beet. If it’s to your liking, go ahead and harvest. If not, just recover and wait a few days longer to check again.