Beets are popular root vegetable that can be grown as a spring or fall crop in Kansas. Tops can be used as a cooked green, rich in vitamin A, and roots are a great source of vitamin C. Roots are typically canned or pickled, and are served diced, sliced, whole, and in strips. Swiss chard is a close relative of the beet and produces foliage rather than an enlarged root. Nutritional value is similar to that of beets.
Red round varieties include Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Ruby Queen, Little Ball, Red Ace, Asgrow Wonder, and Warrior. Elongated varieties include Cylindra and Long Red Blood.
When to Plant:
Beets are fairly frost hardy and can be planted in early to mid-April in many areas of Kansas. Irrigate carefully to avoid soil crusting, which prevents good germination. Plant fall beets in early August.
Spacing:The beet seed is actually a cluster of seeds in a dried fruit. Plant the seeds about an inch apart and about 1/2 inch deep. Hand thinning is usually necessary to provide a uniform stand of beets properly spaced 2-3 inches apart. Poorly thinned stands will have an abundance of tops with few or small roots.
Care:Beets compete poorly with weeds, so frequent shallow cultivations are necessary. Beet plants require a fertile well-watered location. Hand thin the plants when they are 1-2 inches tall to avoid damage to surrounding plants.
Harvest:Select beets of the diameter you prefer. Roots larger than 2-21/2inches in diameter are often tough and woody. Beets for baby beets or whole canning should be harvested smaller. Trim the tops of beets to 1/2-1 inch above the roots and store in plastic bags in a refrigerator before use. Mulch fall-planted beets to prolong the fresh harvest season, but use them before they freeze.