The sugar beet is a plant that is grown primarily for sugar production. The roots of the sugar beet contain up to 22 per cent sucrose, which is a simple sugar. Russia, the European Union, and the United States are the three largest producers of sugar beets in the world. The pulp and molasses from the sugar beet are also commonly used as an additive in livestock animal feed. Home gardeners can harvest sugar beets and eat the sweet root as well as the green, leafy tops. Some home gardeners also plant sugar beets to feed local wildlife, such as deer.
Select an area of your garden that receives at least eight of hours of direct sunlight per day.
Select your planting date. In southern regions, you can plant as early as April 1, but if you're in a northern region, you should typically wait until the last week of April or early May to ensure missing the last frost of the season. Sugar beets can survive temperatures in the mid-20s Fahrenheit, but it is advisable to wait until after the last hard frost in your region to begin planting.
Spread a 1-inch layer of compost onto the planting area with a shovel or rake one month before you plant your seeds. Sugar beets do well in soil that is rich in organic matter, and adding compost will enrich the soil.
Till the soil. Set your tiller blade to medium depth and till the soil with the compost. The tiller will mix the soil and compost together, and will also help eradicate any weeds in the growing area. Pick out any rocks you see in the soil after you are finished tilling.
Wait one month after composting and tilling to plant your seeds.
Moisten the soil slightly with a garden hose.
Space your sugar beet rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
Sow the seeds between 3/4 inch and 1 1/2 inches deep into the soil. Place the seeds 1 inch apart in each row.
Allow the sugar beet plants to grow until they sprout between four to six leaves. Thin the rows to one plant every 10 to 12 inches once they reach this size.
Pull weeds by hand or spray them individually with an herbicide. Sugar beets do not compete well with weeds, so you must be diligent about keeping your garden weed-free.
Harvest the sugar beets between 90 to 95 days after planting, once the green, leafy top above the ground is 12 to 18 inches tall. If you planted your beets in a northern temperate region, harvest your beets before the first hard frost of autumn. Sugar beets stop growing after enduring a hard frost, so be sure to get them out of the ground before frosts arrive.
Things you need
- Shovel or heavy rake
- Garden hose
- Sugar beet seeds
- Herbicide (if needed)