Container gardening is an innovative way to grow your beets. You don’t need a lot of garden space to start, and you have more control over essential growing conditions like light, temperature, and moisture. But can container gardens offer a high beet yield as conventional gardens?
You can grow around fifteen beets in a 5 gallon (18.93-liter) bucket. You can grow more as long as you plant the beets under ideal conditions. If you want an even higher yield, consider a half whiskey barrel, where you can grow fifty beets.
Beets are an excellent option for container gardening, as you’ll see in this article. I’ll go over how to grow beets successfully in a five-gallon (18.93-liter) bucket and the benefits and challenges you can expect. Also included are a few product recommendations that’ll help make the process as easy as possible!
Beet Yield in a Five-Gallon (18.93-Liter) Bucket
We all don’t have access to acres of land or a house with a spacious lawn. So what do you do when you’re big on gardening but small on space? Grow your crops in containers!
Container gardening allows you to grow almost any vegetable, including beets, given the right conditions and an appropriately-sized container. According to a WSU Snohomish County Extension fact sheet on container vegetable gardens, you can grow:
- 15 beets in a 5 gallon (18.93-liter) bucket
- 50 beets in a half whiskey barrel
Of course, one gardener may plant more and another less, depending on how they space their crops. Some elements that determine plant spacing include soil fertility, climate conditions, and gardening methods.
Factors That Influence Beet Yield
Your beet yield will depend on factors such as:
- The growing conditions, i.e., soil, water, and sunlight
- The quality of the seeds you purchased
- Where you grow them, i.e., in containers or on land
- Pests and diseases
Farmers can usually grow anywhere from 8 to 16 tons (7257.48 to 13607.8 kilograms) of beets for every acre (0.40 hectare). Of course, the amount of beets you can grow in a container is not nearly as much. Regardless, under the right conditions, even a 5 gallon (18.93-liter) bucket can give you a decent yield.
How To Grow Beets in a Five-Gallon (18.93-Liter) Bucket
Before you commit to growing beets in containers, there are certain things you need to know.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Beets
Beets, like other plants, have basic requirements that you should meet for healthy plant growth and optimal yield. These needs are:
- Sunlight. Beets need six hours of direct, unfiltered sun each day.
- Water. Beets need at least one inch (2.54 cm.) of water a week.
- Temperature. Beets like temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21.11 degrees Celsius). Beets are a cool-weather crop and don’t do well in high heat. Additionally, anything below 50°F (10°C) may damage the crop.
- Nutrients. Beets thrive in soil rich in phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
- Soil pH. The optimal soil pH for beets is around 6.5. It’s critical to maintain this pH for efficient nutrient uptake.
Helpful tip: presoak your beet seeds before sowing to make them germinate faster.
As I mentioned earlier, container gardening gives you plenty of control over your garden’s growing conditions.
You can pick up the bucket and move it from an area with partial shade to an area with full sun. And if it rains heavily, you can move the bucket to prevent rainwater from overwatering your beets. Additionally, you can easily ensure the potting soil has the proper pH, correct nutrients, and is well-drained.
Allow about an inch (2.54 cm) of space between each seed. This YouTube video by The Ripe Tomato Farms gives a step-by-step guide on how to grow beets in buckets:
You can transplant your beet seedlings into your outdoor garden to provide earlier harvests, provide a buffer against heavy frost and critters, and make it easier to manage your garden layout.
Selecting the Right Tools
The tools you use for regular gardening are not the same ones you’ll use for container gardening. If you plan on growing beets in a bucket, you should consider purchasing:
- A trowel and a garden hand fork: these handheld tools will make it easy to dig into containers.
- A soil pH meter: this will help you know the pH value of your soil to determine the availability of essential nutrients.
- A moisture meter: this instrument helps you detect the moisture content in your soil and hence know when to water your plants.
- A drill: use it to create drainage holes in the bottom of your bucket.
Of course, you’ll need a 5-gallon (18.93-liter) bucket. Be sure to get one that is safe for turning into a growing container. I recommend choosing one that is BPA-free, meaning it has never contained chemicals that will be toxic to your plants.
If you prefer to use something other than a bucket, a grow bag will suffice. Also, with this one, be sure it is BPA-free. From my experience, grow bags ensure good drainage and allow for portability because most have handles.
Harvesting and Storing Beets
One of the best parts about growing beets in containers is that you don’t have to crouch down to pull them out. You could also build a raised bucket garden bed, making garden work easier on your back.
Beets are ready to harvest once they have a deep, purple color, smooth skin, and are firm. Moreover, if you see an inch or two of the crown protruding above the soil line, it’s a safe bet they’re ready to dig up.
As to what beet size is best, this comes down to personal preference. Some people argue smaller beets are juicier and taste better. You can let them grow larger before harvesting. But if you wait too long, they may become duller in color, fibrous, or lumpy, consequently losing some of their flavor and juiciness.
All in all, you can expect to harvest your beets between seven and eight weeks after planting.
If not using them soon, store beets in a cool and dry storage area until the excess soil on their skin dries off. Wipe off the dried dirt, chop off all but two inches of the stem, then store the beets unwashed in the crisper drawer. Only wash beets you plan to use right away—this will prevent them from going bad too quickly.
Benefits of Growing Beets in a Container Garden
Although somewhat easy, harvesting beets can be strenuous if you have low back pain, especially in hard soils. When you grow beets in a bucket, it saves you from digging them up during harvest time.
Not only is digging through the soil tiring, but it can also damage the produce. You can easily overturn the bucket on a plastic sheet and separate the beets from the soil.
Container gardens also take up very little space. You can set up one on your porch, backyard, or anywhere that gets hours of direct sun.
Additionally, buckets are quite affordable—a 5 gallon (18.93-liter) bucket is not much more expensive than a 1 gallon (3.79-liter) bucket. However, you’ll get a higher yield with the former.
Challenges of Growing Beets in a Container Garden
If you use your bucket plant for something other than gardening, you’ll have to either thoroughly clean it or buy a new one. For instance, if a container comes in contact with herbicides or pesticides, it’s likely no longer safe to plant in, especially food crops.
You’ll also need to drill holes in the bottom of the bucket. Well-drained soil is crucial for the growth and survival of beets. Saturated soil causes plant roots to suffocate due to a lack of oxygen, which can cause the plant to die.
Drainage holes need to be large enough to allow water to flow out easily. On the other hand, the soil will wash out if they’re too big. So it can be challenging to make the right drainage hole size, more so without a drill.
If you love beets, the yield from a one five-gallon (18.93-liter) bucket may not be enough. Consider a half-barrel planter instead. It will cost you more but will produce more than three times the yield of a five-gallon bucket. Alternatively, if space allows, you can have several container gardens dedicated to beets.
Beets are an ideal choice for growing in containers. You can grow 15 beets in a 5-gallon bucket, making it much easier to harvest them. Just remember to ensure optimal growing conditions and equip yourself with a few essential tools.