Early Wonder Beets are another time tested heirloom. Not quite as sweet as Detroit Dark Red , but still fairly sweet and an early producer. They are commonly grown for their greens as well as the beet roots.
The tops [greens] are relatively large, averaging 16 – 18″ and yield an early harvest. The beet roots themselves measure 3-4″ round and are slightly flattened on top.
This is an early cool season crop and does not fare well in warm weather. Plant early for an early harvest or plant in the fall for a over wintering crop – it’s not advisable to grow these or attempt to grow them in the dog days of summer.
In warmer weather they do not reach their full potential, are smaller and quite frequently have a woody unpalatable texture. The flavor is also bland if grown in hot weather.
Early Wonder is usually harvested in bunches with its large greens still attached
Beets are a cool-weather crop that can be direct seeded in Autumn or as soon as soil can be worked in early spring.
Cultivate your planting site and add about an inch deep layer of compost and organic fertilizer.
Beet seeds generally germinate within 2 weeks if kept moist. Shielding the garden bed with burlap for a few days immediately after planting will reduce surface soil crusting and compaction. Be sure to remove the covers as soon as the seedlings begin to break the surface.
Direct seeding is the best way to start Beets if you have a long enough season, however, seeds can be started indoors for transplanting outdoors after the last frost in spring. Beets planted in Autumn for overwintering should not be started indoors
Beets require a high phosphorus level to germinate. Take it easy on the nitrogen in the beginning. Mix in some well rotted compost in the soil when planting.
Phosphorous is represented by the second digit on the fertilizer label. Phosphorous is the second number in the mix. For example, 5-15-5 has 5% total nitrogen, 15% Total phosphorous and 5% Total Potassium. See: Understanding Fertilizer Labels
Full Sun – Partial Shade
Germination 12 – 16 Days
Maturity 45 – 50 days for Beets. 30 – 35 Days for Greens
Pollination : Beets are grown for their roots and leaves [greens] they do not produce an edible fruit so if they fail to pollinate it’s no catastrophe. They are not self pollinating so if you plan on seed saving you’ll need multiple plants for adequate pollination. Keep beets away from Swiss chard as they will cross pollinate with one another.
USDA Hardiness Zones 3 – 10
Plant Height – 10 to 12 Inches
Spread – 10 – 14 Inches
Beet Size – 3-4″ round – Roots are commonly used for “baby beets” before maturity but also make a dandy full grown beet as well.
Soil ph: 6.0 -7.0
Fresh beets can be refrigerated for up to a week. Removing the tops off beets will help them stay fresh longer. Leave about an inch of stem on each beet, and store the greens separately.