the failure of thinning beets

no matter the amount of care and time one always seem to come up with a situation in which their beet (beta vulgaris)  seed germinates much too close together.  that was the case in the hoop house where we planted beets a couple of weeks ago.

what gives?  we carefully used the precision seeder to make it so we wouldn’t have to thin, but when they sprouted there were three or four seedlings per spot.

while it might seem like failure, it’s just the way beets are.  what we see as a seed is actually multiple seeds – a seed cluster.  i’ve often heard it referred to as like a dried up berry – with multiple seeds in each one.   even though you put one “seed” per spot, often you get 3 or 4 plants spouting up from the seed cluster.

much as you might not want to, you have to thin these, or else you will end up with no good beets.  don’t think of it as a bad thing – in fact don’t even call it thinning, call it harvesting.  i harvest once to get a bit more space between the beets; collecting the tiny beet seedlings and using them as micro greens in salad.  a few weeks later when they are much bigger i harvest again to give them enough space to make full size roots.  the thinnings i harvest used in salad mix, or stemmed briefly for the most tender beet greens.  i get at least three harvests out of one seeding!

enjoy the beets!


2 responses to “the failure of thinning beets

  1. It might not be a failure, really, on your part, Patrick. Beet seeds are often polyovic (there are usually 4-6 seeds in the little hard pointy packet) and unless you are really diligent about thumbing them apart, then clumpy is the way they might grow. Ah well. Luckily we can eat the whole thing!

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