Saturday, March 20, 2010


Valued for both their sweet roots and tasty greens, beets also bring interesting colors to the vegetable garden.
Beets are a cool-season crop best grown in spring and fall let them mature in cool soil for best color and flavor.
Plant beets in fertile, light textured soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Enrich the soil with a 2 inch layer of well-rotted compost before seeding.
Beet seeds often germinate sporadically, so sow seeds in shallow trenches filled with a mixture of compost and vermiculite. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart.Hedging planting two to three weeks before the last spring frost. Keep the soil constantly moist until seedlings appear.
In areas with cool summers, make additional sowings of beets at three week intervals into the summer. In warmer climates sow most of your beets in late summer and early fall.
Beet seed are actually a fruit so sowing produces a thick stand, thin seedlings to 4 inches apart. The leaves of Young plants are edible. Remove weeds by hand and mulch around plants with a 1 inch layer
Keeping the soil moist and cool is key to growing sweet, uniform roots. If hot weather arrives be roe beets begin to swell, cool the roots by adding more mulch or hilling.
Beets are heavy feeders so it is helpful to amend the soil well with compost. Add supplemental fertilizer based on soil test
Begin harvesting beets when roots are golf ball size. Baby beets fully mature to 1 inch diameter in 60 to 70 days. Fall crops will hold in the garden until soil begins to freeze. Where winters are mild, some hardy varieties can be left in the garden.

Ok here is some new information that i have learned. A person could get 20tons of sugar beets from one acre of land and produce 6,000 pounds of sugar. You would have to let your cows eat the leaves if not you would have to cut them. Then dig and wash the roots. This is done the first year or you lose any nutrition. Then the roots are sliced and steeped in hot water for an hour. then the pulp is mashed and squeezed. The remaining pulp can be feed to cows. The sugar syrup is boiled down and made in to sugar. to do this on a large scale you would need special equipment. I plan on planting some to see what you could do on a small scale since i found no information on it. Small beets cannot be fed directly to cows since it posses a choking hazard.


  1. beets sound great, now we need instructions on what to do with them once we have them, like how to turn them into sugar etc.

  2. The information I found said:
    1. Wash and scrub beets to remove any residue.
    2. Chop small, or shred the beets.
    3. Place the beets into a large pot and add enough water to keep them from sticking. Cook until the beets are soft and are loosing their color.
    4. Strain the beets, reserving the juice.
    5.Put juice back on the stove and let it simmer until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistance. Stir constantly. This syrup should be similar in thickness to honey, or corn syrup.
    6. remove from heat and let cool. As the syrup cools it will begin to crystalize. Cover with a dish towel or cheesecloth, and let it set overnight.
    7. Remove the crystallized beet sugar from the pan. Pound or otherwise break into small sugar crystals.
    8. Use as you would store bought sugar.
    *Beet sugar will not be pure white like store bought sugar. It will still have a tinge of color.
    *Beet sugar is better for you nutritionally than refined white sugar.
    I will try it and let you know if I can find beets the next time I go to the store.

  3. do you think this will be more trouble than it is worth?

  4. We wont know til we try it. It mostly depends on how much sugar you get out of it. I am going to start with 4 pounds of beets (if I can find fresh beets this time of year) and then weigh the sugar at the end so I can get an idea of what kind of yield to expect. Even if it does turn out to be more trouble than it is worth, its a good thing to know how to do and a great project for young people to learn how people got by in the depression era and during WWII when store bought sugar was rationed and very hard to get.