Beets are herbaceous biennials that are grown and harvested for their edible foliage and roots. Beets are high in vitamin C and are commonly eaten pickled. Beet roots are various shades of red and purple, due to high levels of betalain pigments. The green top grows up to six feet in height and produces tiny green flowers. Beets are easy to grow in most temperate climates around the world.
Sow beet seeds one week before the final frost of winter in a location that receives full sunlight. Ensure the soil at the planting site is well drained and highly fertile. Allow three to four inches of space between each beet seed.
Water beets four to five times a week until the seeds germinate and the root system becomes established. Reduce watering to three to four times a week until plants are ready for harvest. Never allow the soil to dry out, or the beets will suffer.
Spread a one-inch layer of mulch over the soil immediately after planting beet seeds. This will conserve moisture and regulate the temperature of the soil. Maintain the layer of mulch until the beets are harvested to prevent overheating.
Use shade cloth to protect beets from temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Any white cloth large enough to cover the planting site is adequate, and will reflect the sun's rays, reducing the temperature of the soil. Beets become tough and tasteless if exposed to hot temperatures for long periods of time.
Harvest beets when the roots are one to four inches in diameter, or about 50 to 75 days after planting. Use a small spade to dig the root out of the soil, or gently pull on the foliage until the beet is removed. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to consume.