Care and Management:
Like their cousin, Swiss Chard, beet "seeds" are actually multi-germ seed balls with each having the potential of developing into one to five plants. Because of this, it is very important to thin beets. When the plants reach 1½ to three inches in height, thin out the stand to one plant every three inches so that the roots are not crowded and can develop properly.
Your "thinnings" can be eaten as "baby greens" in your salad mix or lightly steamed as greens. Keep well weeded. Cultivate shallowly, and often, to keep the soil loose around the developing roots to help ensure uniform beets.
When thinning a plant cluster, do not pull as you will disturb and potentially damage the plant you wish to keep. Instead, use small scissors to snip off the plants you are removing. Additionally, do NOT attempt to separate into separate "seeds" as you will likely damage them and they will not be able to germinate.
As the plants grow and the beet roots are developing, you can selectively, and sparingly, harvest leaves to be used as greens in salads. Do not take more than one-forth of the foliage from any one plant.
- When beets are ready to harvest, their shoulders will be protruding from the ground so you can easily see what size they are.
- Depending on your preference, you can pull them when they are small (about 1½ inches in diameter) or larger (up to about three inches).
- If left in the ground too long, especially through very hot weather, flavor and texture are affected.
- In general terms, beets are typically at the 1½ inch stage in 60 days; the common size for eating or canning.
For fresh eating, beets can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Cut the tops off of the beets but leave one inch of the stems on top of the roots. Beets store the best at 32°F and 95% humidity. Do not allow them to freeze.