# 2 Top Ten Vegetables To Grow ~ Beets
Beets are a fast growing crop that can be grown in almost every hardiness zone. Although beets are known as a root crop, all parts of the beet plant are edible. Tender beet greens can begin being harvested when thinning a row of beets.
Beets are a member of the chard family. All parts of the beet plant are edible. All types of beets and chard will cross-pollinate with one another so it is best to plant them a distance apart.
Beets are not quite as cold tolerant as something like broccoli, but they can tolerate a light frost and they do like cool temperatures, so beets are generally grown in the spring or fall.
Since beets are root crops, a light, but richly composted, well draining soil is best. Rocks, clay and anything that can interfere with the roots development should be removed to avoid oddly shaped roots or no root at all.
Beets grow very well in raised beds so they are an ideal veggie for the home gardener to grow who may have limited space.
When to Plant Beets:
Spring: Wait until the soil has warmed and dried out. A soil temperature of 50 degrees F. (10 degrees C.) is ideal. Beets can be planted in succession every 3 weeks, for a longer harvest until early May.
Fall: Beet seeding can begin again once nighttime temperatures begin cooling off. Be sure you leave about 1 month before your first expected frost, from you last seeding.
Beets don't transplant well and are always planted from seed. The beet seed in packets is really a type of shell that holds 4-6 seeds each. This is why you should thin and use the greens when they get a few inches tall otherwise the beets will grow too closely to form bulbs.
Beet seeds can be slow to germinate, because of their tough outer shell. Soaking the seed clusters over night will help soften the shell and speed germination. You can always use the old trick of planting fast sprouting radishes in the same row as your beets. It helps mark the row and loosen the soil. By the time the beets start to develop, the radishes are ready to be pulled. My experience has been that keeping the soil fairly moist while the seeds are germinating can speed up the process.
Beets grow with a portion of the root above ground, so seeds do not need to be planted deeply. 1/2" to 1" deep is sufficient, planting deeper as the temperature warms.
Beets are planted only about 2-3" apart. That's all the space the roots need and when the leaves start growing together, they provide a cooling mulch for the roots. You can plant in rows, wide rows or blocks.
You can start harvesting greens when they are a couple of inches tall. The greens are most tender before they reach 6". Beet roots are ready to harvest when they are approx. 1 ½ - 3" in diameter. Larger roots can be tough. I allow mine to grow according to what I am using them for. I pull some smaller for pickling and freezing and I allow some to get bigger for shredded beets or chunk pickled beets.
Harvest by tugging or digging. Leave at least 1" of the leaves on, to avoid bleeding during cooking.
Beets are ideal root cellar vegetables and can be stored for 3-4 months at near freezing temperatures with high humidity (98 - 100 percent). Beets can also be canned, pickled or frozen.
Our Favorite way to cook beets is to roast them.
Itzy Bitzy Farm Roasted Honey Beets
1-2 lbs Beets
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 Tbsps Honey
4 Tbsps Butter
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
S & P
Trim leaves and tap root off beets leaving about 1 inch on both ends so they don't bleed. Rinse dirt off and drop into pot of boiling water. Boil gently for approx 20-30 minutes or until skins begin to slip. Drain and plunge into ice water. Slip skins off and trim top and root off beets. Place beets in baking dish, place pats of butter on top of beets, sprinkle brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and pepper over beets and toss to cover all beets. Drizzle honey over mixture and bake beets at 350 degrees 20-30 minutes or until fork tender and deep burgundy color. Pour into serving bowl with syrup that has formed in pan.