My SoCal Garden

How to Grow Beets

By Steve Thomas-Patel·

Organically grown beets are hands-down more flavorful than ordinary supermarket beets. This is a must try vegetable to grow at home, and it is one of the easiest.

Beets are a wonderful vegetable to grow during the cooler months of the year. You've never experienced beets unless you're lucky enough to have grown them organically with your own two hands, or eaten an organic beet from a farmer's market at just the right time of year.

Beets are a super food and taste absolutely delicious. They have more potassium than bananas, but they improve your blood pressure levels by up to 20%, beets can also reduce the risk of heart disease.


Beets are native to the Mediterranean region, which is why they are so great to grow in Southern California. They have been much changed by years of cultivation, but the original species is called “Sea Beet” or “Wild Spinach”.

The leaves have been eaten since long before written history, but the root is more complicated. It was popular as a medicine only for centuries, but gained culinary importance around the 18th century in France.

Sugar beets are beets grown specifically for making sugar. Most white sugar used in the food industry actually comes from sugar beets rather than sugar cane. In California, the sugar beet used to be an important agricultural product until land values destroyed its profitability.

How to Grow

Beets love our California weather, as long as they get steady irrigation and are grown during the cooler months. Unless you are growing them for the greens, then you can grow them any time of the year.

As a bulb, beets do best in light, airy soil. A decent garden potting soil should do well. It is possible to grow beets in our tough clay soil, but they may struggle to gain their full size.

If you look closely at beet seeds, you’ll notice something doesn’t look quite right about them. That’s because they are actually a very small, dried fruit. This fruit contains 2-4 seeds in it. That creates a small issue, because all of these seeds are viable and you will frequently have too many beets growing too close together. So make sure to thin your seedlings once they emerge.

For the same reason, be careful about how far apart you lay your seeds. The bulbs will only fully develop if they have enough space between them. Square foot gardening says you can fit 9-16 in a square foot, depending on the variety (with smaller beets allowing for more per square foot). I like to scatter them between larger plants, much like I do with radishes. Plant the seeds about ¼ inch deep.

Beets are generally disease and pest free and if you run into problems its usually best to just pull out the ones having the issues.

Harvesting Beets

Beets are ready to harvest when they reach the size you want. You should be able to see the shoulders of the beet protruding from your soil. You can get an idea of it's size from this, but don't be afraid to push the soil around at the top to see more.

You can harvest beets when they are small, about the size of a ping pong ball. They are said to have the most flavor at this point. I like them a little larger, at about the size of a medium onion. If you let them grow for too long they will become tough. If you are growing them for the leaves, you might let them become larger.


Roasted Beet and Yogurt Salad
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45

A simple, hearty salad that's nice to have on hand.

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