Q. I have read that each “b-b” sized husk beet “seed” contains approximately 6 “real” seeds – so should I crush these husks to release the “real seed” prior to planting? Also, how much prior to the last average last frost date should I plant my beet seedlings for transplant? Lastly, since they are such tiny seedlings, how large should they be allowed to get before transplanting into the garden and how far apart should they be spaced in the row – I would imagine a couple of inches at least for growing to mature beets would be minimum.
A. He’s only joking about crushing the beet seeds. Don’t do it, just plant them as they come. His other questions may have been made tongue-in-cheek also, but I’ll answer them anyway.
Beets are considered semi-hardy, and will not be killed by light frost. They are usually planted directly into the garden as much as a month before the average last frost date for that reason, and because their value usually doesn’t justify transplanting from pots or flats.
They CAN be transplanted, however, and the notion that because they are a root crop they will be stunted is not correct. The bulb will form just fine.
We sometimes use beets when teaching seedling production, because they can be planted easily as well as early, and they provide an inexpensive lesson in volume transplanting. You might want to try it yourself, to improve your transplanting skills.
The seedling is usually 3 to 4 weeks old when it’s transplanted into the garden.
Spacing – either for transplants or for seeding directly – should consider the size of the mature fruit and leave space to avoid crowding. If you enjoy eating young beet greens, which are even better than cooked spinach, you may want to plant closer together and thin them to the final 2-3″ spacing you desire.