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Help with Beets

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Help with Beets

Post  Smartchick on 5/12/2011, 4:24 pm

Ok folks. I have attempted to grow beets every year in my SFG and have been unsuccessful. I get a lot of greens and not much beet. I'm the only person in my family that likes them and I'd like to have enough to eat and pickle. I have always just planted and watered and have never amended anything in my SFG's but perhaps I need to for the beets? What would I add and how/when would I do it?

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/12/2011, 5:12 pm

I would be incredibly interested to see how this gets answered. I have never had the desire to grow beets. But, if there's a difficult veggie for someone, I love to see the answers come in.

If you get no advice here, put this out in the General Forum. But, usually people poke around other regions. I hope we find someone with experience here.

Good luck!

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  camprn on 5/12/2011, 6:04 pm

There are a few reasons you may just get beet greens and not great bulbing roots:

  • too much nitrogen in the soil
  • not thinning seedlings
  • low pH, they prefer a neutral pH, 6ish
  • not enough organic matter in the growing medium
So, if you have pretty straight MM and you don't mind tinkering with a few squares for your beets, I have a few recommendations:


  • if you are so inclined, test the soil pH (so you know where you are starting from)
  • Add a bunch of compost, a shovel full per square, mix in well
  • add a handfull of wood ash per square and mix it in well
  • sow thickly, so you can thin out the weaker plants & harvest greens
  • thin the seedlings anvinch or so apart, then as the plants grow, thin again, and again. This way you will have lots of beetgreens for supper or the freezer!
  • They like water!
  • They take a few months to grow and you want to harvest before they get huge or the bulb will be woody.
For more info about growing nice beets, search the web, there is some good info out there! Here are some of my beets from last year, and yes I tinkered with the MM. Wink

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Smartchick on 5/13/2011, 4:40 pm

I am going to get a pH meter as I'm growing blueberries as well and figure it might come in handy so I'll see what my mix is.

So, say I already have all my beets in the boxes (which I do). If I have an imbalance, is there anything I can do "after the fact?" This is coming from a gardener who even when I did the "row" thing, never amended the soil - I did more of the "plant it and pray" method. Smile

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Old Hippie on 5/13/2011, 10:30 pm

My beets did not amount to anything at all last year either. I have had that happen once or twice before and never did figure out why. This year, I plan to really dig in a lot of compost where I plant them and hopefully that will help. I did read in one gardening book that if you plant them in soil that is too cold they will not form a good root. Not sure how true that is......had never heard that before. But I have put down clear plastic over the box that I am planting beets in to help hold in the heat too.....just in case. We will see what happens.

Since you have already planted yours, maybe top dress with more compost and see if that helps any.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  shannon1 on 5/14/2011, 1:34 am

I'm so glad you posted this. I will be planting beets for the first time this year, so I am looking forward to all the good avice you will get.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  HPartin on 5/14/2011, 3:12 am

I dont have a lot of experience for this is my first garden. However, I can say that I have several plantings of beets and the leaves of the ones I planted Feb. 22 are much(!) smaller than the ones I planted April 15. I would have to agree that they must like the soil a little warmer.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  milaneyjane on 5/14/2011, 11:08 am

I am putting beets in my SFG for the first time. I grew them in my row garden without any compost or anything and they were amazing. Hmmmm....now I am wondering how they will do in the SFG.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  shannon1 on 5/15/2011, 1:02 am

Do you pre soak your beet seeds?

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  camprn on 5/15/2011, 7:58 am

@shannon1 wrote:Do you pre soak your beet seeds?
Nope. Very Happy

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Barkie on 5/15/2011, 9:43 am

I reckon I've neglected the beet thinking that there wasn't much you could do with it but this site has changed my mind. I'll have to make some effort to grow them.

http://www.lovebeetroot.co.uk/recipes/

Barkie
building steps up to the sfg beds in soggy weather Sad

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  bullfrogbabe on 5/15/2011, 9:48 pm

I haven't had any luck growing beets in MM either. Two years of leaves and no roots.

Not enough phosporous can be the culprit too, according to the internet. I added a pile of bone meal this year to see if it makes any difference. I also planted earlier in case it is a heat problem.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Miss M on 5/16/2011, 1:39 am

We planted beets (no soak) in MM in mid-March, and just harvested. They are 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

I think you're probably low on the Potassium or Phosphorus.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  shannon1 on 5/16/2011, 1:44 am

Ok, I'm not going to soak mine either. Just waiting until the moon starts to wane.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Smartchick on 5/16/2011, 1:29 pm

Well, I did buy some bone meal last week as I had seen that as a recommendation before (and I have a lot of bulbs in the flower garden that could probably use a boost as well). I'm going to get myself a pH meter tonight and see what it says. I too suspect maybe one of the P's. I wouldn't think my compost was low on nitrogen as there is quite a bit of grass clippings in there. I have two squares of each kind. Maybe we'll have a little mad scientist experiment and treat one square of each with bone meal to see what happens. I can always replant in the fall when I see what affect it has. I don't presoak either. I do have to say they are one of my favorite seeds to plant because they are actually big enough to handle! You almost need tweezers for the darn carrots and lettuce.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Cropper2 on 7/1/2011, 5:13 pm

Thanks for all of the helpful information. I planted beets for the second time this year and the beets were itty bitty. I started pulling them up when the foliage started to look like it was dying and the biggest beet was the size of a thumbnail. I LOVE beets and hoped they would be an easy crop. Not so much so far. I'll invest in a pH meter and try again next year.

Is there any point in replanting them now (July 1, Zone 7) for a fall crop?

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Furbalsmom on 7/2/2011, 12:42 pm

Cropper, what is your first Fall Frost Date? If is is mid October or later, you should be fine.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Cropper2 on 7/2/2011, 12:57 pm

I'm told that it is in the late October time frame, so I'll give beets and my other non-performing early spring crops another try. Thanks!!

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Hyzleyes on 7/6/2011, 5:45 pm

So glad to see this post! This is my first year gardening and I was really excited about beets, but when I checked a week ago, my beets were still really small. The greens are really nice though! I just figured that I needed to let them stay in the ground a little longer. I planted my first square April 18, so it's been 79 days. The packet says 59 days. If they're small, do any of you think more time will make any difference? Or should I just harvest them to free up the squares?

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  westie42 on 7/6/2011, 6:47 pm

@Cropper2 wrote:Thanks for all of the helpful information. I planted beets for the second time this year and the beets were itty bitty. I started pulling them up when the foliage started to look like it was dying and the biggest beet was the size of a thumbnail. I LOVE beets and hoped they would be an easy crop. Not so much so far. I'll invest in a pH meter and try again next year.

Is there any point in replanting them now (July 1, Zone 7) for a fall crop?
If you have plans for making some adjustment there is plenty of time for more beets but most likely without something being changed you will still get no results. I have 4 kinds of beets in my SFG and have planted them 3 times each and get the same results as you and many others nothing to show for the effort. My backup plan has always been to keep my regular garden and sit the SFG boxes on it. The beets in my row garden are very normal. Correct top/bottom proportions and sizes. I have given some away and plenty to eat but still none from the SFG unless all I wanted was tops which are a good thing just not the desired thing. The picture above tells me even those beets are more tops than beetroot. My tops are awesome blue ribbon specimens but the bottoms are quite undersized. Usually things that respond to too much nitrogen look like that. Just put miracle grow on veggies too often and that is what you get. Looks like rather than too much nitrogen per say we have an NPK imbalance so Phosphorus or Calcium mite be in short short supply in the MM. Also being a retired engineer I fully understand design flaws verses the need to move forward with production and marketing while the customers do the trial and error product debugging. Are there clues in the appearance or performance of other crops that give a hint to what is inadequate in the Mix that many of us have especially us beet lovers. After reading the new book and following this forum for several months I became enticed to jump in but by nature a skeptic so only jumped in the shallow end where my life jacket is my old garden. Hopefully this mystery will become unraveled so we all can enjoy beets from our SFG. But in the mean time I am awfully thankful for my regular old tried and true God given dirt garden. Maybe Purdue or somebody will come up with a degree in SFG management.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  camprn on 7/6/2011, 9:01 pm

I had great beets last year, this year they are coming along but very, very slowly. Shocked

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  Smartchick on 7/11/2011, 12:56 pm

Well, I did actually get a decent crop this year. Still a lot of greens, but the beets themselves were closer to golf ball size than marble size. They tasted really good roasted!

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  squaredeal on 7/11/2011, 3:26 pm

I've had both fat (one) and skinny beets (many) in the same square foot box! My husband is the great beet lover and I have had no beets to give him, either in SFG or traditional garden. However I read that beets don't like an acidic soil, so if you have too much peat in your box, like I probably do since I didn't get the proper composts, then that might explain why don't have any bottoms. This is the link to that website.
http://www.heirloom-organics.com/guide/va/guidetogrowingbeets.html

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  bullfrogbabe on 7/16/2011, 9:35 am

My beets don't look like they will produce this year either. I didn't get them in as early as I should have. I did supplement the MM with bone meal but that alone has not solved the problem. Ha been raining regularly (and I water 2x daily when it doesn't). My radishes had great tops but no roots too. Now it is getting too warm for them......my later crops of radishes are punny and the beets are still small too.

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Re: Help with Beets

Post  westie42 on 7/16/2011, 11:09 am

@squaredeal wrote:I've had both fat (one) and skinny beets (many) in the same square foot box! My husband is the great beet lover and I have had no beets to give him, either in SFG or traditional garden. However I read that beets don't like an acidic soil, so if you have too much peat in your box, like I probably do since I didn't get the proper composts, then that might explain why don't have any bottoms. This is the link to that website.
http://www.heirloom-organics.com/guide/va/guidetogrowingbeets.html
That is a nice beet article and reference the whole site looks excellent as a reference on organic-heirloom plant growing. According to that MM should give a nearly perfect medium for beets. What jumps at me in there is too much nitrogen and too little organic matter as possibilities for our problems. Even the pet moss provides the aeration beets like. Following high nitrogen using plant like corn and not putting in more compost to replenish is something I mite try in one square. The combination of too little organic matter and high nitrogen looks most likely to be the problem from my viewpoint.

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