Sugar beets (Beta vulgaris L.) provide a major source of the United States' sugar supply. An average sugar beet produces about three teaspoons of sweet sugar. This sugar plant grows biennially, producing roots and foliage the first year and blossoms and seeds the second year. Since most gardeners grow this sweet beet for its roots, they usually grow it as an annual and harvest the crop the first year. These sugar plants grow readily from seeds planted in suitable environments.
Prepare your garden bed about one month before the final frost in your area. Sugar beet seeds prefer cool temperatures for germinating and sprouting. Clear your planting site of any existing weeds or other plant growth. Break up the topsoil with a garden tiller. Rake up any uprooted vegetation and remove it from your garden area. Smooth the top of your tilled soil with your rake to provide an even surface for your sugar plant seeds.
Dig a shallow trench in your prepared bed with the corner of your hoe to form a row. Make the trench about ½ inch deep. Lay your sugar beet seeds 1 inch apart along the bottom of the trench. Scoop the soil from the raised edge of the trench over the seeds to cover them. Gently pat the soil over the seeds to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
Water your seeds with a fine spray from your garden hose until soil becomes evenly moist. Keep the soil slightly damp around your sugar plants while they germinate and begin to grow.
Thin the young seedlings when they reach a height around 3 inches. Gently use your fingertips to pull out any spindly and crowded seedlings, leaving one healthy seedling every 3 inches along your planted row.
Remove any weeds near your sugar plants by pulling them as soon as you notice them growing in the garden. Keep the soil slightly moist near the developing roots. Like many types of root crops, sugar beets require regular rainfall or supplemental watering to develop healthy produce. Check for soil moisture by digging a small hole near the base of one of your plants to the depth of the developing beets. The soil should feel slightly cool and moist, not dry and crumbly.