Updated: Aug 1
I think one of my favorite memories was seeing the look my friend’s little girl made when she saw a beet pop out of a pot on the tv mantel. Her eyes looked like they were going to pop right out! Admittedly, my friends were little less impressed when they got home and she apparently started yanking out plants around their home. Hahahaha
That was the day I think the edible plant movement gained one more enthusiast. Why grow a boring spider plant if you could grow a beet? 😊 I think that's why my favorite part of this article is actually the tips for harvesting beets in containers. (scroll down if you want to jump to it)
Planting Beets in Containers
Unlike carrots, these root vegetables often grow as wide as they do deep, so plant seeds at least 2 inches apart and a 1/4 of an inch deep. Once you have two true leaves opened wide and ready to soak in some sun, start thinning your seedlings to 3-6 inches apart.
Keep in mind that the entire plant is edible so you can carefully wash the seedlings you thin out and toss them into a smoothie. They may be small, but they still carry nutrition! Once planted, you should see the start of young plants or seedlings in 7-14 days.
Fertilizing Beets in Containers
When growing beets, like most root vegetables, for best results try to use a fertilizer that’s on the lower end when it comes to in nitrogen, but higher in phosphorous and potassium. One example is a fertilizer mix that offers something like an NPK 5-10-10.
Once the maturing beetroot plant starts growing in your container (about 3-4 weeks old), switch over to a water-soluble fertilizer.
Avoid The Most Common Pest with beets in containers
If you've grown beets before, then you might not be a stranger to some of these. Pests like Leaf Miner for example. Those bullies are a real pain. Thankfully you'll typically encounter far less pests and diseases when growing beets indoors in planters / containers.
How to prevent, spot, and remove leaf miners
Leaf miners are small dark flies with triangular yellow markings, that start out as yellow maggots. Yuk!
They then feed on the leaves of a plant, creating irregular round-shaped mines/tunnels on the leaves which are long and narrow at first, but eventually become an irregular-shaped light-colored patch.
That damage stunts your plant's growth, turn leaves yellow, and cause leaves to drop. In extreme cases, seedlings die off completely!
Here's what you need to know:
Monitor your plants for signs of these pests, paying close attention to the undersides of leaves. Typically, leaf miners can be removed using a stream of water in the early morning, and certain sprays are good to use too.
Normally if you were to be growing these outside, natural predators like ladybugs and parasitic wasps can also be attracted to keep leaf miners away; however, this isn’t really usually an option with indoor growing.
The good news is that you’re also less likely to encounter leaf minors outdoors, far less likely than if you were growing these in raised garden bed outside.
If you do spot them, simply pick the bugs off and then carefully remove any damaged leaves. Insect netting can also be used to prevent leaf miners from attacking any plants.
Also, keep in mind that soils should be plowed under immediately after harvest if any crops were infected with leaf miners.
Harvesting root vegetables – 10 top tips
Root vegetables are some of the best loved veggies out there, but in order to enjoy them at their very best, you need to know how and when to harvest them.
So, when do you pull out your veggies? As a general rule, remember that the darker the leaves and thicker the stem of the plant above ground, the bigger the root under the ground.
If you look down at your mature plants and notice that some leaves are more darkly colored than others, then it’s usually safe to assume that those plants that will have the most substantial veggies below-ground.
Speaking of the vegetable greens, the greens on top are actually more nutritious than the root, so don't waste them! Trim, wash, and enjoy. They're fantastic in smoothies and salads. Especially the younger ones.
You can actually harvest up to a 1/3 of the leafy greens while the root is still developing. Just don't get greedy 😉 your young plant needs them to. Snip some of the mature leaves, leaving the inner leaves intact. The beet root will continue to grow under the soil.
If growing for flavour, harvesting beets once they reach the size of a golf ball is ideal for most beet varieties. For best results, avoid letting these types of vegetables grow to any size that is larger than a tennis ball.
Effectively harvesting root vegetables has a lot to do with timing and the vegetables’ sizes. If you wait too long to harvest root veggies, they can become over-large and can lose their tastiness.
If you’re feeling impatient but it’s too early to harvest, you can always snip off some of your root vegetables’ leaves – they are delicious!
Beets, like carrots and radishes, can grow partially above the soil, especially when they start to mature. Sometimes you can remove some of the topsoil and check the thickness or size of the vegetables before pulling them out.
If you accidentally plant your seeds too close together and you see some congestion, don’t worry – just pull out some baby roots like carrots and radishes (which can be enjoyed at any size), and this will relieve tension in your garden and allow for the other crops to grow to their fully mature size.