How to grow beetroot in five easy steps - when to sow, plant and harvest this vibrant vegetable

Follow our growing guide and enjoy bumper crops of this versatile root

Beetroot growing in a garden
(Image credit: Getty Images/Martin Harvey)

When we say beetroot, thoughts may immediately turn to the jars of vinegary slices of pickled beets, favoured at retro dinner parties, but believe us when we say, they are so much more than that.

So, if you want to learn how to grow beetroot, follow our gardening advice and you will be enjoying generous harvests in no time.

These earthy, sweet roots are perfect roasted, tossed in summer salads, as toppings to pizzas, and even in rich, gooey chocolate brownies (or indeed, as tasty home-made pickles, about as far removed from the shop-bought jars as you can imagine!) Plus, it is a great vegetable that can be grown in shade.

Emma O'Neill, head gardener at Garden Organic explains, 'Beetroot is a relatively easy crop to grow. It can be grown in full sun or dappled shade in almost any soil type. They grow quite happily with most other crops, but I usually plant them with our other roots such as carrots. There’s a vast array of varieties to choose from including heritage types so you’ll easily find one to suit your tastes.'

So, you no longer have to battle the purple staining when preparing beetroot if you don’t want to, thanks to varieties like the cheerful candy-striped ‘Chioggia’, the sunshine yellow ‘Burpees Golden’, and even the pure white ‘Albina Vereduna’, so there is something for everyone.

You may think this is all well and good, but without a large garden, is it even possible for you to grow beetroot? The answer is a resounding yes!

Wonderfully simple to grow, this is the perfect crop whether you have acres of space, a small balcony garden, or anything in between.

Emma O'Neill, head gardener at Garden Organic explains, 'You can sow from spring all the way through to mid-summer for a continual crop - and they’re sweet and tasty with the bonus of being a lovely colour. They can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted and don’t take up too much space so they're perfect for smaller gardens and containers.'

A basket of beetroot in a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty)

What you'll need

How to grow beetroot step-by-step

beetroot in a vegetable plot with a man's welly boot and garden pitchfork - Martin Harvey - GettyImages-85307956

(Image credit: Getty Images/Martin Harvey)

1. Choose your seeds

Depending on the time of year you are starting your beetroot, you can sow seeds either in modules under cover or directly in the ground where they are to crop.

Make sure seeds are purchased from a reputable supplier. Those wanting to get out of the starting gates early in spring, start your beetroot in modules filled with a good-quality, peat-free potting medium.

Outdoor sowings can commence from March or April time, depending on conditions where you are, and can continue right through until July.

2. Find the right spot

Ensure the ground where you will be growing your beetroot has been prepared in advance by removing weeds and adding a generous dose of well-rotted fertiliser.

Mark out your line and sow your beetroot seeds at a depth of 2.5cm, spacing rows 10cm apart to give the roots the space to grow on. If you are growing for full-sized roots, space each seed approximately 10cm apart from each other, or if it is baby roots you are looking for, you can sow a couple of seeds together.

Make small sowings every two or three weeks throughout the season (known as successional sowing) for a constant supply of beetroot across the summer and autumn months, rather than getting everything in the ground in one go and dealing with gluts come harvest time.

3. Planting out

If you started your seeds under cover, once they have germinated and had a couple of weeks of putting on good growth, you will need to transplant them outdoors into a prepared bed.

Space rows 10cm apart, allowing 10cm between plants. Hardening the seedlings off first is a good idea – this means gradually acclimatising the plants to outdoor conditions by leaving them out for extended periods of time each day.

4. Continued care

Beetroot is a largely unfussy plant, happy to grow in shady spots, and not requiring much TLC, other than watering during particularly dry spells. You will also want to remove any weeds competing for space and resources.

As each beetroot seed is in fact a cluster, thinning out will be required – but you don’t need to consign these miniature pickings to the compost heap – they are wonderfully tasty as microgreens, perfect for use in salads or sandwiches.

5. Harvest time

Garden Organic’s head gardener, Emma O’Neill, says 'Beetroot can be harvested when it’s small and sweet, about golf ball size - which is usually around 40-50 days. However, you can wait until they’re tennis ball size, which takes around 60 days. I advise not to leave them longer than this as they can become woody. And don’t forget about the leaves: they’re not only attractive but also edible.'

When your beetroot has reached the desired size, carefully pull up, making sure not to spear the roots with your hand tools – any that are damaged will not store well and will need to be used straight away. Store roots in a box of sand in a cool, dry spot (such as a shed), for a couple of months – and enjoy!


Can you grow beetroot in pots?

Head Gardener at Garden Organic, Emma O'Neill, has good news for small space gardeners “Beetroot can be grown in containers, and we have grown them this way at our organic demonstration garden in Ryton - but a good depth and adequate spacing are important otherwise they can be too small.”

If you are growing in containers, keep in mind that your plants may need a little more watering than they would when grown in the ground.

So there you have it. Knowing how to grow beetroot will fill your vegetable patch or patio with this vibrant and delicious vegetable, perfect for salads and so much more.

bio pic of Emma O'Neill, head gardener at garden organic
Emma O'Neill

Emma O’Neill is Garden Organic’s head gardener, She first studied horticulture at Pershore College in 2001 and has been gardening professionally since 2003 - working in a variety of different sites from National Trust gardens to a large private estate. She now manages a team of staff and volunteers, writes gardening articles for magazines and creates the occasional show garden. Her passion is herbaceous perennials and all things floral, but she loves to try new things.


Laura Hillier is an editor and content writer with more than 10 years of experience in horticulture and women's lifestyle journalism. Passionate about sustainability and the wellbeing benefits of being in the outside world, Laura is keen to inspire everyone to grab a little slice of the good life.