Saving seeds from your garden beet plants allows you to grow your favorite variety without the expense of purchasing seeds each year. Beets are a biennial plant, so they only produce seed in the second year after sowing. This can make seed saving difficult as you must keep the beet root alive through the winter months so it can produce seed the next summer. Digging up the root and storing it in a safe place protects it from winter cold and makes saving beet seeds simpler.
Dig up the beet plants you have chosen for seed in the fall after their tops have begun to yellow and fall over. Dig around the root to loosen the soil; then gently pull the entire plant out of the ground.
Fill a large bucket with slightly moistened sand. Cut the tops off the beet roots; then bury the roots in the sand so they aren't touching each other. Place the bucket in a protected area outside, such as on a porch, until spring replanting. Keep the roots moist and protect them from freezing.
Replant the beet roots in spring as soon as the soil is thawed enough to work. Plant the roots at the same depth they were the previous year, and space them four inches apart.
Water the beets as needed to keep the soil moist until they produce flowers in mid-summer. Allow the flowers to wither and die off. Pick the flower stems when the seed heads along the stalk are dry.
Rub the seed heads between your thumb and forefinger while holding each seed head over a bowl. The seed will break free from the stalk and fall into the bowl. Pick out any extra plant matter from the seeds.
Place the seeds in an envelope or jar and seal closed the container. Label the container with the beet variety and year harvested. Store the jar in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant.
Things You Will Need
- Envelope or jar
- If you live in an area that rarely has freezing temperatures in winter, you can leave you beets in the ground instead of digging them. Cover them with a four-inch layer of straw to help protect them until spring.
- Beet seeds remain viable for up to three years after harvesting.
- Do not collect seed from beets that bolt and produce seed in the first year. The seed will be likely to also seed early, ruining the crop.