Growing beetroot in Australia is easier than you would think thanks to its long growing season and short growing period.
Also, you can sow the seeds directly into the ground without needing to muck around with seed trays.
Appearance and characteristics
Beetroot is a taproot in the Amaranthaceae family, the same family as spinach and chard.
The plant itself grows a green leafy vegetable, with a round taproot. The main part we eat is the mature taproot, which is usually eaten boiled or roasted.
However, young beet greens can also be used in salads, while if they are left to mature they can be used in a similar way to spinach.
Beetroots can be eaten raw or cooked. They are slightly sweet when raw and take on a slightly more earthy taste when cooked. They are often pickled or made into juice.
When to plant beetroot in Australia
Beetroots grow best when sowed directly into the ground. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your soil conditions will allow for germination.
Fortunately, beets grow year round in Australia and can also be planted in most months.
Here’s a simple guide:
- Hot climates e.g. Queensland – sow seeds year round (although it’s best to avoid heavy rain or extreme heat).
- Temperate climates e.g. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide – sow seeds from July to March.
- Cold climates e.g. Tasmania – sow seeds from September to February.
As a general rule, try and avoid growing beets in extreme temperatures.
If you’re up north, try and avoid growing them over summer, and in temperate areas, you’re best to grow them in the shoulder seasons to avoid the winter frosts and summer heat.
How to grow beetroot from seeds
Beets are a great addition to any vegetable garden. Once you try your hand at them, you’ll quickly see why they’re one of the most popular vegetables for home gardening.
Beets are easy to grow from seed. Here are the key things you need to know:
Prepare your soil
Beets prefer well-drained soil with compost and decomposed manure added.
The pH range for growing beetroot is 6 to 7, and you should aim for a soil temperature of at least 10°C for germination.
Sowing your seeds
Like most root veges, beets are best sown directly into the garden as they don’t like being transplanted.
For best results, soak your beetroot seeds overnight before sowing.
Beetroot seeds should be planted 2cm deep, and spaced at 2cm apart. You can then thin to 7cm spacing when they sprout.
Caring for beets
Here’s how to grow beets that are delicious and nutritious:
1. Beets like full sun but can also handle some shade. They definitely aren’t as fussy as many other garden veges.
2. Water regularly so that soil stays moist but not soggy or wet. Beets prefer well-drained soil with lots of organic matter.
3. Apply a seaweed-based fertiliser like Seasol (avoid high-nitrogen fertilisers) every couple weeks from when your plants are young until harvest time (usually about 6 weeks).
Grow Guide: Beetroot
|Plant type: Annual|
|Height: Up to 90cm|
|Climate: Suitable for most climates|
|How to plant beetroot|
|Soil: Well drained soil with compost and decomposed manure|
|Soil pH range: 6 to 7|
|Soil temperature: 10 to 25°C|
|Spacing needs: Plant a seed every 2cm then thin to 7cm spacing when they sprout.|
|Seed depth: 2cm|
|Germination days: 5 to 8 days|
|When to sow: Year round in warm areas, from July to March in temperate areas|
|Caring for beetroot|
|Sun: Full sun to partial shade|
|Water: Water regularly to keep soil moist|
|Feeding: Apply a seaweed-based fertiliser like Seasol (avoid high-nitrogen fertilisers)|
|Time to harvest: 2 to 3 months|
|When to harvest: The top of the beetroot will rise out of the soil when it is mature. Harvest before they grow too large (7cm max).|
When to harvest beetroot
Beetroots should be ready for harvest in 2 to 3 months after planting.
They will indicate they are ready for harvest when the tops of the plant rise out of the soil.
You can tell when they’re mature by looking at them—once they reach around 5-7cm in diameter, you should harvest them.
As with all vegetable crops, you should keep track of the number of days since you sowed the seeds. Compare this to the guidance for the specific variety of beetroot you are growing.
|Australian beetroot varieties||Time to harvest||Root weight|
|Early Wonder||8 weeks||n/a|
|Bull’s Blood||8 weeks||90g|
Beetroot pests and diseases
Diseases that may impact beetroot include:
- Damping off
- Seedling blight
- Downy mildew
- Alternaria leaf spots
- Leaf spot
- Powdery mildew
- Sclerotinia rot
Insects that may impact beetroot include:
- Cluster caterpillars
However, beetroots are remarkably pest- and disease-free.
The only common problem is fungal disease resulting from too much water, especially in the early stages.
This is why well-draining soil is so important, as is not planting seeds during the rainy season.
Beetroot companion plants
There are many benefits to companion planting.
One of the most important is that it reduces the risk of pests and diseases by creating a diverse ecosystem around your plants.
As an added bonus, companion planting can also help you attract beneficial insects and pollinators.
Here are a few companion plants we recommend for your beetroot:
- Brussels sprouts
How long does beetroot take to grow?
The time from sowing seeds to harvesting is only 2 to 3 months, making them a great vegetable for beginners. Once they’re ready, you’ll want to pick them before they get too big and start to lose their sweet taste.