Nutrient pH 6.0 to 6.5 EC 0.8-5 PPM - 1260-3500
Root crops such as beets can be successfully grown hydroponically.
A methodology that uses ample media to support the plants while the roots develop is necessary. Ebb and flow systems lend themselves well to root crops, but others, such as aeroponics work also.
A container has to be the correct size to accomodate your beets at their peak. Beet sizes vary somewhat dependent on variety, but they basically attain a size of about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The containers should be at least 4 inches in diameter by at least 6 inches deep in order to accommodate the beet roots and their capillaries. I sometimes use grow bags, but basically any container will suffice.
Fill your container with a growing media to support and stabilize the seedlings. Sand or sphagnum moss will work.
A blend of perlite, vermiculite will work even better. A little peat blended in is not a bad idea - but not absolutely necessary.
Be sure to leave some head space, at least an inch, more if possible, between the filler from your reservoir and the containers top.
Beets are a cool weather crop, they will survive chills but don't fare well in intense summer heat. Air Temperatures of 60-65 F during their active growing periods is best. See Hydroponic Temperature for info related to nutrient solution temperatures.
If you are growing them outdoors, a well lit location is best - partial shade will suffice, but not full shade. Indoors Grow Lights need to provide 6 - 8 hours of light daily.
Plants can be started from seed, I've started some in oasis cubes and transferred to the setup. You can also start them conventionally - in soil and then transfer them into the hydroponic system.
For plants started in soil, rinse off the roots of your seedlings to remove any soil particles, which can interfere with your solution. Place the plants roots in a container of weak nutrient solution at about 1/4 strength, to soak for about half an hour. A stronger solution can shock the plants.
Nutrient solution should be one designated for root vegetables. General purpose nutrients will suffice, but one specifically designed for root crops is best. A nutrient ratio in the vicinity of 5-10-10 is best. Nutrient Ratios are listed on the label.
Beets grown in soil mature between 50 and 70 days, those grown in a hydroponic setup - theoretically mature more rapidly. I've harvested in as little as 35 days - anticipate 35- 50 days depending on the conditions. The good thing about beets is that you can't harvest them prematurely. The younger roots are actually more tender and tasty. However, if you plan on using the greens try not to let grow over 6 inches before harvesting as the taste diminishes.
Iron nutrient deficiency is sometimes a problem in hydroponically grown beets. Beets are an iron intense plant, nutrient solutions do not always supply all the iron content a beet requires.
Even when they do, it sometimes remains un-used by the plant.
Some essential nutrients remain underutilized due to diminished photosynthesis / poor lighting or inadequate light spectrum. Iron deficiency impairs chlorophyll biosynthesis, hence the beneficial effects of photosynthesis are somewhat wasted.
Nitric Oxide functions Positively in the development of fine Root Hairs and capillaries. Nitric Oxide can be supplied to plants in the form of form of nitrates or nitrogen in the nutrient solution. It is known that Nitric Oxide Improves Iron Availability in Plants .
The nutrients can only be adequately synthesized by the plant if all elements are in synch. -meaning sufficient lighting in the correct spectrum and sufficient nutrients.
Beets are heavy feeders. They need fertilizer/ nutrients. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient during the season to grow properly. However , you can't simply dump a ton of nitrogen into the solution, or even use a very high nitrogen solution and expect the plant to synthesis it correctly. Unfortunately it's not that easy.
One method is to add slow release nitrogen such as Neptunes Harvest Crab Shell .
Another method is by supplying hydroponically grown beets with humic acid which has been shown to increase yields dramatically . Humic Acid facilitates nutrient uptake in plants and lends itself well to the hydroponic scenario.
1. Nitric Oxide Improves Internal Iron Availability in Plants
2. Nitric Oxide Functions as a Positive Regulator of Root Hair Development
3. Effects of Humic Acid on Protein Synthesis and Ion Uptake in Beet Discs