How do you know when beets are ready?

lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)September 4, 2009

I planted beets for the first time a couple weeks ago. The little seedlings are up and I started to thin them a bit - from what I've been told I need to leave a couple inches in between each plant to allow the root to form - but I only pulled a couple seedlings because I wasn't sure.

I have two main questions - how far can I let them go before thinning? I'd like to let the tops grow a little bit so I can use the seedlings I thin out for beet greens, but I don't want the remaining beets to suffer. I'd rather lose out on the thinnings than lose out on the beets.

Second - how do I know the beets are ready to pick? Just pull a couple up here and there and check the size?



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This is my first year with a garden, but I'll try. I also grew some beets earlier, and still have some growing.

I thinned mine when they got about 2 inches tall. You might be able to wait longer...not really sure. Yes, you want a couple of inches between them. If you don't have enough room between they don't grow right. As they start to swell, I would just pull a little dirt away from the top of the root to check the size. I do the same with my carrots. When they get to the size you would like, depending on the variety you planted, pull 'em!


    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Beets, depending on variety and growing conditions, can get up to 4" in diameter. So 2 inch spacing is not enough. BUT, you can thin them later and enjoy the top, as green vegetable like chards. Actually chards and beets are close relatives.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 9:20PM
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Cyrus is correct. I'd thin to about 2 inches as soon as the tops are big enough to add to a salad, Then when you get 2 in bulbs on then pull every other one and eat. Beets are good any time from nickel size on up.
If you got a good stand the first time you are lucky, I usually cover the seed too deep.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 1:39PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I would, as reported, start to thin if needed at about two inches and eat the tops as greens in salads.

I might slice up some small beets and put some sliced beet in a salad.

I would leave some until frost thinking they might get sweeter with cold nights.

If freeze is not too hard I might leave some in the ground until after the first hard frost.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 1:42PM
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Small baby beets are wonderful roasted in a little evoo, and balsamic vinegar and served over a bed of greens, that what I do with the small ones. Otherwise, you need more than 2 inch spacing.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 9:50AM
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I usaually bake(wrapped in foil) or steam(in crock pot) real big ones, then slice and eat while hot. Never tried fresh raw ones. I will give it a try.
To me beets are winter treats, as are turnips.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 4:23AM
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cinsay(z5 OH)

My husband's aunt gives me beets to pickle. I'm not sure what type they are but they have red and pink concentric zones. Chiogga maybe? At any rate they are about 6 inches in diameter by the end of summer and still tender and sweet. I don't know how small you can start harvesting but I do know you can harvest pretty darn big ones.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 7:43PM
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spaghetina(SF Bay Area)

I've purchased chioggias from the farmer's market when they were the size of a small radish. I think the guy was trying to sell off his thinnings. Either that, or his beets did exceptionally poorly. They were TINY! Lol. Even still, they were quite sweet and pretty to look at, so it seems they can be harvested quite small also.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 8:47PM
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lisazone6_ma(z6 MA)

Thanks everyone. I'm going to leave them for a little bit more, then thin, then thin again later.

I wish I had had room to plant them in spring - from what I've been reading, with all the rain it was the perfect year for beets!


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 1:02PM
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