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Although beets prefer cool temperatures, they will tolerate warmer, but not hot, weather. Our best success has been with Early Wonder at the beginning of the season, and followed up with Detroit Dark Red for harvest in the fall.

Starting indoors, under lights, or in the greenhouse will give a jump on the growing season, or beets can easily be grown in containers for a year-round supply. Sow seed at depth of about 1 inch. The most common problem is not thinning. Proper spacing is essential for a quality crop.

The beet "seed" is actually a cluster of seeds inside a dried fruit. Since each beet "seed" actually contains several seeds, thinning is especially important and should be done when seedlings reach a height of 3 to 4 inches. Be sure to watch for soil crusting, as it will lead to poor germination.

If thinning is delayed until the plants are 3 inches tall, those removed may be cooked greens, similar to spinach, or used in a salad.

Beets have a natural germination inhibitor that can be easily overcome by soaking the seeds for an hour before sowing. Although beets grow well during warm weather, the seedlings are established more easily under cool, moist conditions. Make additional plantings every 15 days for continuous harvest.

Beets need an open area with light, well drained soil, that has plenty of well rotted organic matter, and a pH of right around 7. The best quality grow in temperatures of around 60F. Even, consistant moisture is also very important. Drought will cause roots to become woody, and too much water will cause excessive leaf growth, as well as split roots.

Beets enjoy carrots, cucumber, lettuce. onions, and kohlrabi as companions. My favorite way to eat beets is simply to roast them in the oven. It brings out the sugars, and they are very sweet. My wife likes them raw, on a salad.

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