Minimum spacing for beets? (Detroit dark red)

catman529(6b)March 19, 2009

I have very limited space for growing beets...but I want to fit in as many as possible. How close together can I plant them, and still get decent roots? We may use some of the tops for salads, but personally I'm not a big fan of greens so I will be going for the roots. How close together can I fit the plants without restricting root growth?


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3-4 inches in every direction

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:34AM
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So it's not necessary to do rows spaced 1-2 feet apart then? I can't afford to do rows.. I'll just space all the plants at least 3 inches apart in every direction. Maybe a "grid" of plants 4x4 inches apart..

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:38PM
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Beets have poor germination, and when they do germinate, they come up in clumps since each seed is really a fruit with 4 seeds. Plant them thickly, and eat the ones you thin for proper spacing.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:00PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

If you want to increase your germination rate for beets and speed things along a bit you can soak the seeds in warm water for about 12 hours then drain the water and let the seeds sit somewhere warm in a closed plastic container. About 24 hours after that you will start to see signs of germination. Plant them quick after this because they will quickly put out a long radicle and then they become difficult to plant.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 2:25PM
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I plan to soak the seeds overnight in warm water, then plant them directly from the water into the garden the next morning. Should I plant 2 or 3 seeds per space? I hate empty spots, so I want each space to have at least one good germination for a 100% full patch of beets. I've got approximately 300 seeds to work with, and maybe room for up to 100 plants (but probably fewer).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 5:04PM
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Check out the Square Foot Gardening forum here on, including the recommended spacing FAQ, for which I've included a link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Square Foot Gardening - Spacing FAQ

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 5:19PM
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16 beets per square foot? That's great to know...thanks for the link.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:06PM
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Spacing has more to do with what kind of end product you want. 3-4 inch spacing will be good if you want baby beets, 6 inches would be better if you want larger beets. You should also consider the foliage size. I think Detroit dark red has large leaves so they should be spaced a little more. A nice beet for small spaces in Chioggia, it grows small tender beet roots and has small foliage.

With the detroit dark red I would space the rows at least 6" and thin to one every 4" on the row.
Check out my veggie garden blog:

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:13PM
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Will trimming the foliage help the plants if they are spaced 3-4" apart? I want some decent sized roots; they don't have to be huge, but preferably not baby either.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:15PM
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I have found that the more leaves a beet has, the bigger the root. And it's generally okay for the leaves of neighboring plants to intermingle.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 5:46AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I have never given beets 6 inches in a block planting--more like 3-4- and if I don't get to them, they get huge. Still tasty though.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 6:16AM
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susandonb(NC 7)

It also depends on variety I recently bought a variety from Henry Fields that only get about 4-6 inch around, Detroit Dark red can get much bigger around so needs more spacing.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:50AM
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catman529 - What you have to picture is if you have large leaves they are going to naturally spread to the side. If the next row is too close then they will shade each other out. I think with rows 6" apart and thinning to 4" between beets would give you a nice crop of roots that are not to small but also not to large. This is pretty close spacing really.

Also don't forget that you can slowly thin the row as the beets grow so you can eat the thinning's. Start by thinning to a few inches and let the roots bulk up. Then thin again and eat the baby beets and so on.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:29AM
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I'll calculate how many I can fit 4x6 inches apart, and 4x4, and 4x3 in my alloted space. I'll fit as many as possible without restricting too much root growth.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I plant them in a couple weeks...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:33PM
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I always plant them closer and after they grow as large as they can without touching I pull every other one and fry a little bit of bacon pieces. Rub off the skin of the beet root and cut up the tops and add water and steam them until they are wilted. Anytime I have tried planting them the right distance I ended up with not enough plants.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:18PM
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