Learn how to grow beetroot and you'll have a bumper crop of veg ready for pickling and roasting. Although red beetroots are the most common, you'll also find equally delicious orange and yellow varieties for adding a splash of colour to your dishes. And don't forget to eat the leaves, which can be used in salads when young or wilted and used in place of spinach when they're more mature.
There are varieties of beetroot that can be sown between March and July, and will be ready for harvesting between June and October. They store well in a cool, dry place, so you can enjoy fresh, homegrown beetroot for more than half the year.
If you don't have a lot of space, then beetroots can be grown successfully in containers.
Keep reading for our step-by-step guide to growing beetroot, from how long it'll take to grow, to the common problems and how to avoid them. If you fancy growing more root veg, take a look at our guides to growing potatoes and carrots.
Step-by-step guide to growing beetroot
1. Beetroot will grow successfully in most soil types but you'll need to dig through some well-rotted manure and general purpose fertiliser before sowing. Make sure there are no large stones.
2. Check your seed packet to see when the variety you've chosen should be sown. Early varieties, which are planted in March, need to be placed under cloches to protect them.
3. Plant other varieties fortnightly between the middle of April and July for a steady supply of tasty roots. Plant them 1cm deep and 10cm apart, with a 30cm gap between rows.
4. When seedlings reach 2.5cm, thin them out so there's only one seedling in a 10cm radius.
5. Keep the area weed-free and water regularly, as this reduces the chance of roots splitting.
The best places to buy beetroot seeds online
- Thompson & Morgan beetroot seeds
- Suttons beetroot seeds
- Dobies beetroot seeds
- Waitrose Garden beetroot seeds
How long do beetroots take to grow?
Most globe-shaped beetroot will be ready to harvest in 8-10 weeks. The longer, more cylindrical varieties can take up to 20 weeks. Harvest alternate plants once the roots are golf ball sized. Let the remaining plants mature to cricket ball size.
The best varieties of beetroot to grow
- Babieto di Chioggia – this is great if you don't want stained fingers! The yellow flesh doesn't bleed
- Cheltenham Green Top’ AGM – a tasty variety with long roots, which stores well
- Boltardy AGM – delicious early variety
Common problems when growing beetroot
According to the RHS, the biggest issue when growing beetroot is bolting, which is where plants flower or set seed prematurely. Look for bolt-resistant types and sow at the correct time, as stated on the packaging.