These days it’s pretty common to find a small greenhouse in the backyard of many residential homes. Growing your own healthy, chemical, and preservative-free fresh produce is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle for many people. In addition, growing your own produce in a greenhouse will provide you with year-round fresh veggies, no matter the growing season.
Beetroot is the ideal plant to grow in a greenhouse as it is amazingly easy to grow. To produce a crop of healthy beetroot in your greenhouse all year round, you will need the following equipment:
- Containers – these should be deep and wide enough to grow multiple plants
- Soil, fertilizer, and compost, preferably organic
- Gardening tools
- Beetroot seeds
Home-grown beetroot will not contain any of the toxins of commercially grown beets, so if you have a surplus, why not sell the extra to your friends and family or at the local farmers market? To produce an abundance of fresh beetroot, try the following steps.
1. Decide Where You Are Going To Plant Your Beets
Choosing the right location to plant your beetroots will significantly affect how well they will grow and decide the harvest you will see at the end of the growing season. When growing beetroot in a greenhouse, the choices you have are to sow your beetroot seeds directly into the ground or into containers.
If you decide to plant in the ground, you need to ensure that your soil is fertile and loosely packed to a good depth for growing a root crop such as beetroot.
Because beetroot develops their fruit underground in the form of a tuber, they need space to expand and loose soil to accommodate their growth.
Growing in containers is an alternative method to grow beetroots in your greenhouse. However, the container must have the correct depth to allow the beetroot to grow and be large enough to sow enough seed for your needs without the plants overcrowding each other.
2. Plant Your Beetroot In The Right Season
The beetroot plant is one of the most tolerant vegetables and will deliver a good crop if planted into the correct soil and grown in the right conditions. Beetroot is a cool-season vegetable capable of withstanding nearly freezing cold and frost conditions.
- Beetroot flourishes when planted in mild temperatures of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
- If the seeds are planted when the weather is too hot, the seeds won’t germinate.
- However, any colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) could cause slow germination of the seeds.
Germination will happen in 5 to ten days at an ideal temperature in well moistened and drained soil.
If you live in the north, spring or fall are the ideal sowing times for beetroot seeds. However, beets will grow all winter long in the south. Beetroot seeds should never be planted in the summer, even when growing them in a greenhouse.
For beetroot plants to grow correctly, they need to be planted in a sunny position in your greenhouse, ensuring early morning or late afternoon shade.
Here’s a good video that shows the whole process of growing beets with more info below:
3. Choose The Right Variety Of Beetroot
Beetroot is a colorful addition to your veggies on the dinner table. They come in various colors like deep red, white, yellow, and even a striped variety.
These are the best varieties of beetroot for planting in your greenhouse:
- Cylindra, a Danish heirloom, is commonly known as “Butter Slicer.” This is a cylindrical-shaped, rather than a traditional round-shaped beet. It grows to about 8 inches (20cms) in length and is ready for harvest in about 60 days.
- Detroit Dark Red. A versatile, deep red variety, it will grow well in different temperatures, and soil typed. It is ready for harvest after 59 days.
- Golden. Although this variety is golden in color, it has the same flavor as red beetroot. Notably, this variety doesn’t bleed, so it won’t stain your fingers or garments! Ready for harvest from about 55 days.
- Sugar beets. These beetroots have white flesh and are more conical than round, resembling a turnip. These beets are used to make sugar and are not generally cooked or eaten like other beets.
4. Prepare Your Soil To Plant Your Beetroot
For beetroot to thrive when planted directly into the ground or in a container in your greenhouse, they need rich, loamy soil, enhanced with tons of fertilizer, well-rotted compost manure, and nitrogen. A PH level ranging between 6.5 to 7.5 is a requirement for healthy beetroot plants.
Phosphorus and potassium are required for vigorous root growth, so never reduce the amounts of these minerals in the soil. If your soil is mostly clay, add tons of sand to improve the drainage and texture of the soil.
As a rule, the deeper the soil, the better for growing beetroot as they need the room to grow giant beets.
When growing beetroot in containers, make sure that there are enough drainage holes in the bottom, and it is at least 18 inches (45cm) wide. Place a few stones in the bottom of the container to aid with drainage and fill it up with good organic multi-purpose compost.
Here’s a good video with some tips on how to grow more beetroot than average, with more info below:
5. Plant Your Beetroot Seeds With The Correct Spacing
Beetroot, as with all root vegetables, should always be planted directly into the soil. Before planting your beetroot seeds, rinse them in a strainer under warm water until they are damp. This should be done at least an hour before planting.
- When planting the seeds in rows, keep every row 6 inches (15cm) apart with 3 to 4 inches (7 – 10cms) between each plant at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch (600mm – 1.2cms) deep.
- After placing the seeds into the soil, top the seeds with 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.2 – 2cms) of loose soil.
- Water the seeds lightly and keep them moist until they sprout at about 14 to 28 days after planting in the soil.
- This is the ideal time to thin them out to about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cms) apart.
- Thin the seedlings out even further to about 4 inches (10cms) apart from about 74 to 104 days before the first frost.
Beetroot seeds can be planted indoors in peat pots about four weeks before the planting season. Transplant the beetroot seedlings when the leaves are about 2 inches (5cms) long.
You should be able to grow a crop or two before the end of the season if you plant new seeds about every three weeks.
Top Tip: Unused or freshly harvested beetroot seeds can be kept in a sealed container and will stay fresh while stored in a cool, dark, dry spot for five years or more!
6. Give Your Beetroot The Right Amount Of Water
After sowing the beetroot seeds, give the ground a good, complete soak, then water them every day. Always be careful not to wash the soil off the seeds, plants, and beets as they grow.
- When watering seedlings, using your fingers, dig into the soil around the roots to about 3 inches (7.5cms).
- If the soil is moist, stop watering, but you need to continue watering if it is dry.
- Monitor your growing beetroot regularly to check when they need to be watered.
- Generally, 1 inch (2.5cms) per week is the requirement.
The soil should never dry out as the beetroot requires loose, moist soil to grow, so apply a mulch layer over the soil to conserve moisture. If the plants do not get enough water, they will not produce great beets.
There are a few different methods that you can use to water your plants in a greenhouse.
- A watering can – easy to carry but can only contain a fixed amount of water. Great for sprinkling water on freshly planted seeds and seedlings without washing the soil off them.
- A water hose – provides a better stream of water, perfect for more established plants.
- A sprinkler or drip irrigation system – various systems are available to constantly provide water to each individual plant by overhead watering or dripping onto the soil next to the plant.
Here’s a good video about how to grow beetroot from cuttings if you prefer that approach:
7. Feed Your Beetroot Plants Correctly
You can add bonemeal, wood ash, organic compost, and well-rotted manure to the soil when growing organic beetroot. These can all be mixed into the prepared soil before sowing the beetroot seeds or seedlings.
- Apply a light layer of complete organic fertilizer over the soil every two weeks.
- Always give the soil a good soaking after applying the fertilizer.
Weed and perform essential maintenance on the beds at the same time as adding the fertilizer to keep disease and pests away from your growing beetroot.
8. Harvest Your Beetroot At The Right Time
The super fresh, juicy, and tasty beetroot can be harvested after 50 – 70 days of planting. Make sure that the beets are about 6 inches (15cm) long before digging them up. You can dig the beets up earlier if you prefer a smaller sweeter, beet, as some varieties lose their sweetness the larger they get.
After harvesting, twist off the beetroot tops, do not cut them off as they could bleed and lose some of their color and taste.
How To Store Fresh Beetroot
The best way to store beetroot is in a wooden box. Layer sand or straw at the bottom of the box, then a layer of beets, followed by another layer of sand or straw. Keep layering until the container is full. If you don’t have sand or straw, wrap each beet in brown paper instead and layer in the box.
Store the wooden box in a cool place like a hall closet or a root cellar until you need the beetroot.
9. The Best Companion Plants For Beetroot
Companion plants help to increase the nitrogen in the soil while giving the beetroot a little boost! Strategically placed companion plants will repel unwanted pests while attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and bees.
The very best companion plants to plant in a bed or a container together with beetroot are:
- Bush beans
- Brussel sprouts
The very worst plants to even try and grow together with beetroot are pole beans and field mustard. Beets will not grow well when planted alongside either of these plants.
10. Problems Growing Beetroot In A Greenhouse
While the beetroot is easy to grow, it can have a few problems. Quick diagnosis of the problem can lead to any easy fix but knowing how to prevent these issues is a better way to deal with them.
We have listed a few common problems and how to fix them.
Beetroot Plant Problems
The following problems can stunt the growth of the beetroot plants – refer to our planting instructions on how and when to plant seeds.
- The seeds have not sprouted. This is likely because the seeds were planted when the weather was too warm.
- Drooping seedlings. The seeds have germinated, but the seedlings are now droopy and dark. Wet stems are the cause as the seedlings were planted in moist, cold soil. To prevent future problems, ensure that the soil is well-drained before planting the seedlings.
- Stunted beets. This is a sign that the plants were planted too close, and not enough room for the beets to grow.
- Red leaves. Probably caused by freezing overnight temperatures. The color of the leaves should not affect the beets.
- Woody roots. An indication that the beetroot was not harvested in time!
Pests And Diseases Which Attack Beetroot
The biggest threat to beetroot is pests! They love beets. To prevent them from attacking your plants, regularly spray with a non-toxic insecticide like neem oil. Most insects can be picked off the plants and squished when you see them, and the eggs can be removed by spraying with a mixture of dishwashing soap and water.
The most common bugs likely to attack your beets are:
- Flea beetles
Disease is another significant threat to your beetroot plants; the most common are:
- Downy mildew. Caused by fungus, the leaves will develop yellow and brown spots. To treat this problem, make sure that there is good ventilation in your greenhouse.
- Leaf spot. Brown spots appear on the leaves. Remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent the disease from spreading.
The Health Benefits Of Beetroot
Beetroot is packed with many essential vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. They are a great source of fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, and iron.
Medically, beetroot is known to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and may have anti-cancer properties. They contain nitrates which promote mental health and aid in increasing the blood flow to your brain. They aid in digestive conditions and can assist in improving weight loss.
Eating beets may cause your urine to turn pink or red, but this totally harmless and not an indication of any illness or disease! Beets contain a natural compound called oxalate which could cause kidney stones in certain people.
Beetroot is the ideal plant for any greenhouse farmers. They are easy to grow and don’t require too much maintenance or intervention to produce delicious beets all year round.
Known as a superfood because of its medicinal benefits, the entire beet can be eaten, from the leaves to the roots, making this an ideal vegetable for any small garden or container.
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