How to Grow Beets in a Container
Botanical Names: Beta vulgaris
Beets are a fantastic vegetable option when considering growing your produce in containers. Here are just some of the essentials that you will need for this project:
1. Deep container – Make sure that your container is about 8 to 12 inches in depth. Having a deep container is essential as the beetroot will need this space to expand and grow. Also an added bonus is, that large, deep containers do not dry out as fast as smaller ones, which keeps the soil moist for a longer length of time resulting in less frequent waterings.
2. Upgraded potting soil – Beets are very picky when it comes to soil requirements. They are often prone to boron deficiencies and it is important that there is not too much nitrogen in the soil as this can encourage top growth (greens), but hardly any root growth. Choose a potting soil that is organic and without any added fertilizers. Mix 1 part potting soil, with 1 part manure or compost and 1 part perlite to have an excellent soil for your beets.
3. Fertilizer – Going with an organic fertilizer when growing food crops is most important. There are several different ones to pick from, however, it is important that the nitrogen level is low (N-P-K), which is the first number on the fertilizer bag and that the fertilizer is high in phosphorus, which is the second number in the sequence. Phosphorus is responsible for root growth in the plant’s nutrient needs. Bone meal and manure are great sources of phosphorus. Seaweed is a great source of boron, which many beet varieties become deficient in. Using compost tea with added drops of seaweed fertilizer is a great way to amend the soil on a weekly to bi-weekly basis.
4. Exposure – Beet seeds need full sun and cool temperatures to thrive. Beets are a cool season crop and planted in spring and fall. Full sun is considered to be 6 hours plus of UV light. This means even if it is cloudy, on a clear day that area of your garden would be in full sun for 6 or more hours.
There are many different varieties of beet seeds and a fun project to have a couple different varieties in different containers. Remember that all the seeds in a package do not have to be used. I’ve often saved them a year and planted them to have as much success. Seeds should be sowed around 50 degrees. Once you have selected the varieties to grow, soak the seeds for 24 hours in water. After that 24 hour period, it is now time to plant your seeds in containers filled with potting soil, manure and perlite mixture. Plant seeds at a 3/4" to 1 inch planting depth and 2 inches apart across. I prefer to plant more seeds than not, just in case some do not germinate. Later once the seeds have germinated, which can take 5 to 8 days or 2 weeks if temps are cooler, the plants will be thinned out to 4 inches apart. Continue to water as beets need consistent moisture, however, make sure the soil is drawing well and not waterlogged as beets are susceptible to root rot. Once your beets have reached your desired size, many prefer immature roots as their flavor is concentrated, harvest by gently reaching your hand in the soil and lifting the root. Only harvest what is needed for consumption, unless canning, pickling, freezing, cellar storage is done. With each new gardening season, try a new beet variety in your containers and don’t forget the greens are just as delicious as the roots and even healthier.
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