Beets are easy to grow and are the perfect vegetables for cooler climates. They don’t require special care and can be grown alongside other popular garden vegetables. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t face any challenges when getting the perfect beet crop.
Your beets should be growing neither too hard nor soft. Beets that are too soft will rot faster, while beets that are too hard will have a bitter taste and can be difficult to harvest. If you plant beets under the ideal growing conditions, you will have sweet beets that are the perfect texture.
This article will discuss whether it’s better to grow your beets soft or hard and what factors affect whether your beets will turn out to be soft or hard. It’ll also give you a detailed growing guide to growing the perfect beets and answer your questions on what to do if your beets are subpar.
Is It Better To Grow Soft or Hard Beets?
If you grow or buy beets regularly, you’ll know that sometimes they’re plump and hard, and other times they can be soft and soggy. Beets may also have different tastes: Some can be sweet and juicy, while others can be bitter and hard. So, what is the perfect texture for beets?
It is not necessarily better to grow soft or hard beets. The best beets are hard and plump with soft and juicy insides. You should aim to harvest them when they are neither too hard nor too soft.
Harvesting beets at the right time makes the difference between sweet and tasty beets or dry and bland beets. However, many other factors may affect whether the beets will have the perfect texture or not.
If you get everything right — from soil quality to watering, fertilizing, and planting the beets at the right temperature — you shouldn’t worry about getting a subpar crop.
Why Are Your Beets Too Soft or Hard?
While beets are beginner-friendly plants and require little care, you’ll have to provide them with the perfect conditions to get a decent harvest. You can’t just plant beet seedlings in any soil and wait for the harvest after 55 to 60 days.
Your beets are too soft or hard because they have been planted at the wrong temperature in soil that is too hard or soft, in nutrient-deprived soils. They may also not have been watered properly.
Beets that are too soft will be soggy and bland, while beets that are too hard will be bitter and difficult to harvest.
Here are some reasons why your beets are too hard or soft:
The Temperature Is Too High
Beets grow well in cool weather and can’t tolerate temperatures that are too high. The best time to grow beets is in early spring or the fall. If you grow beets in the summer without proper shade and water, you’ll likely have beets that are either soft or soggy or hard as a rock.
The Soil Is Too Hard or Soft
Another reason for a poor beet crop is poor soil quality. Beets require soft and well-drained soil for optimal growth. If you grow them in hard, rocky soil, the beets will turn out hard. The opposite is true of soft, clay soils. Beets may die in clay soils since the excess moisture will keep the roots soft and soggy.
The Soil Doesn’t Have Enough Nutrients
While beets don’t need as much nitrogen as other leafy plants, they still need enough nutrients for optimal growth. Growing beets in nutrient-deprived soil will result in the beets being too small or soggy since they don’t have enough nutrients to store in the edible root bulb.
Not Watering Your Beets Properly
Another issue with growing beets is that they require the perfect amount of water, though this is true of most garden crops. Beets need wet soils to grow and will shrivel or harden in dry soil. However, overwatering your beet plants can result in soft and soggy beetroot.
What Are the Best Conditions for Growing Beets?
Beets aren’t as easy to grow as they look. You’ll need to perfect everything — from planting to watering, fertilizing, and harvesting — to grow the perfect beet crop. So, what conditions are perfect for growing beet plants in your garden?
Beets grow best in cool temperatures and soft, well-drained soil. They mature well under the sun when the temperatures are moderate. You should grow beets in well-fertilized soil and water them regularly for the perfect crop.
Here are some things to keep in mind to grow the perfect beet crop:
Beets grow best in cooler climates but can’t survive the freezing winter temperatures. The best time to plant beets is in early spring when the growth starts thawing or in the fall when the temperatures start dropping.
You should wait until the soil temperature is 40 °F (4.44 °C) before planting beet seedlings. Avoid planting beets in the summer when the soil temperatures go above 75 °F (24 °C), since doing so may affect seed germination. You can plant beet seedlings in summer, but you’ll have to shade them with other plants and water them properly.
Beets grow best in moist and well-drained soil. Avoid planting beets in soil that’s too hard as it may cause the beets to have stunted growth. If your garden has hard, rock soil, you can work the soil before planting beets. If the soil is too hard in the spring, try planting the beets in the fall when the soil softens.
If you have clay soil in your garden, you can improve the drainage with fertilizer before planting beets. If this doesn’t work, you may have to plan the beets in a raised soil bed for better drainage. Luckily, you don’t have to make a deep raised bed since beet plants don’t have deep roots.
The optimal soil PH for beets is between 6.0 and 7.0. Beets grow best in neutral soils and don’t need soil rich in nitrogen — unlike most green, leafy vegetables.
Beets don’t require special natural fertilizer but won’t grow in nutrient-deprived soil. Beets will grow optimally in soils rich in organic matter. So, you should fertilize the soil before planting the beet seedlings since they grow quickly and may not pick up nutrients from fertilizer applied later.
Giving enough water to your beet plants is crucial for optimal growth. Beets need moist soil and should be watered at least twice a week. However, avoid overwatering the beets since it could cause them to become soggy and may damage the plant. Overwatering can also cause problems such as “damping off,” which is a serious fungal infection that your beets may not be able to recover from.
Do Pests Attack Beet Plants?
Pests attack beet plants, even though beets are hardy in general. Cutworms, aphids, snails, and slugs are all common pests of beets. Beets may also be susceptible to mosaic virus and downy mildew, which may infect the plant’s leaves.
Fortunately, most of these pests can be controlled with natural pest control methods, and you shouldn’t need pesticides. You can prevent most of the diseases that affect beet plants by planting at the right time and keeping the plant away from excess moisture. Downy mildew and other beet diseases usually occur in the fall when the weather is changing, so you’ll have to take special care during these months.
You can also keep pests away from beet plants by planting pest-repelling plants with beets. Chilies, mint, catnip, and other plants will repel most pests and save your beets from insect attacks. However, pest attacks on beet plants aren’t a major problem because beets are grown in the cooler seasons.
Beets are best when they are firm, juicy, and sweet. However, sometimes your beets may be too soft or too hard. This may be caused by planting them in the wrong soil, overwatering them, not watering them enough, or planting the beets when the temperature is too hot.
Beets grow best in cool weather and moist, well-drained soils free from pests. Avoid planting beets in rocky or clay soil, as it could cause your beets to be soft and soggy or hard and bitter.