If you love having delicious homegrown veggies but don’t have space for an outdoor garden at home, you’re in luck. Beets are one of the simplest vegetables to grow in containers at home. In this article, discover how to grow beets indoors in pots for a year-round supply of tender, juicy beetroot and beet greens.
Beets are low-maintenance cool season vegetables that produce edible leaves along with being a popular root crop. As a result, beets are incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
Beetroot is perfect for baking, boiling, pickling, roasting, and eating raw. In addition, the greens make a delectable addition to fresh salads and sandwiches. They’re also delicious steamed or sautéed as a healthy side dish.
Growing beets indoors is easy when you follow these easy container gardening tips. Read on to learn all about how to grow beets at home in your indoor vegetable garden.
Can You Grow Beets Indoors?
Have you ever wondered, “Can you grow beets indoors?” The short answer is yes. Beets, or Beta vulgaris by their botanical name, are ideal candidates for a DIY indoor container garden for numerous reasons.
The many different kinds of beets have a relatively short growing season, reaching maturity in 50-65 days, depending on the variety. Ordinarily, plant beet seeds in early spring, and the seedlings need protection from frosts with row cover or a cold frame.
However, beets grown indoors are fine to plant at any time of the year because you’re in control of their growing conditions.
Although primarily grown as annuals, a beet plant is technically a biennial. It develops leaves and a large, bulbous taproot the first season and produces flowers and seeds in its second year.
Beets are part of the Amaranthaceae plant family and are closely related to quinoa, spinach, and Swiss chard. Although similar in appearance to radishes, they’re not related. Radishes belong to the Brassica family.
Often hailed as a superfood, beets are also highly nutritious. Beetroot is full of nutrients like vitamins B9 and C, fiber, iron, manganese, and potassium. Beet greens are an outstanding source of vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, and manganese.
How to Grow Beets Indoors
Just like growing any other type of plant indoors, it’s crucial to provide adequate amounts of light, nutrients, and water for your indoor beets. Since root vegetables aren’t well-suited for transplanting, beets are almost always planted from seed.
After deciding when to sow beets, fill your pot with a well-draining potting soil mix that’s rich in organic matter and plant seeds a half-inch deep. Gently cover the seeds with soil and water them.
Keep the soil consistently moist while seeds are developing. Germination typically takes between five and eight days. The ideal soil temperature for germinating beet seeds is 55-70°F. However, they won’t germinate if the soil is warmer than 75°F.
Each beet “seed” is actually a cluster of several seeds encased in a hard, protective shell. Once they sprout, sets of two to four beet seedlings begin growing.
To speed up germination, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting, which breaks down their outer coating.
Once the seedlings are three or four inches tall, thin them so they’re at least four inches apart. Spacing is critical for healthy root growth, and overcrowding may cause them to grow stunted or deformed.
Beets tolerate partial shade but grow best in full sun. Ensure that your plants receive at least six hours of direct light each day. If you don’t have a sunny window available, consider using a grow light.
Keep the soil consistently moist but never waterlogged. Overwatering leads to problems with fungal disease and rot. Covering the potting soil with mulch helps retain soil moisture.
As long as you use fertile soil when you grow beets in containers, it’s not usually necessary to fertilize beets while they’re growing. Before planting seeds, mix an all-purpose organic fertilizer into the top few inches of potting soil.
Deciding when to harvest beets depends on which variety you grow and your intended use. For baby beets about the size of a golf ball, when to pick beets is when the crown is about one inch in diameter.
Baby beets tend to be sweeter and more delicate. For full-size beets, allow them to reach two or three inches in diameter before harvesting.
Choosing the Right Container for Growing Beets Indoors
For any type of container gardening, your pot must have drain holes at the bottom. Otherwise, water accumulates in the soil, and the roots cannot absorb oxygen and nutrients, leading to problems like root rot or boron deficiency.
Your container for planting beets should be at least 12 inches deep. Allow six to eight inches of width for each beet plant.
Although they’re beautiful, terracotta pots aren’t ideal for growing an indoor veggie garden because the terracotta absorbs water and dries out the soil faster. Instead, use ceramic, plastic, or resin pots for growing beets indoors.
Best Beet Varieties for Growing Indoors
With so many options available, it’s beneficial to know the differences between the various types of beets. They’re typically red but also grow white, yellow, and striped. Here are a few of the top beet varieties for growing indoors.
Troubleshooting Common Beet Growing Problems
Another advantage of container gardening is that it minimizes the risk of pest and disease problems affecting your plants. However, it’s still vital to monitor them for signs of distress.
The most common insect pests for beets include aphids, leaf miners, and thrips. If you notice insect activity on your plants, spray all parts of the leaves and stems with an organic insecticide like neem oil or insecticidal soap.
If the infestation is too severe, remove the affected plants and dispose of them in sealed plastic bags to avoid spreading it to your other plants.
Fungal diseases like leaf spot, mildew, and rot are often the result of overwatering. Make sure to let the top few inches of your potting soil dry out completely between watering. Treat any affected plants with an organic copper or sulfur fungicide.
The best place to store fresh beets after harvesting is in a root cellar. Don’t wash the beets before storing them. For even longer preservation, consider pickling your beets.
If you’ve been thinking about giving indoor gardening a try, beets are an excellent veggie to start with. They’re fast-growing and low-maintenance, and all parts of the plant are edible and highly nutritious.
All you need to grow a tasty crop of beets is fertile soil, plenty of light and water, and a large pot with drain holes.
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