A hundred to a hundred and fity years ago transplanting beets was not uncommon close to the big Northeastern cities, where there was near year round demand for fresh produce. Market gardeners forced plants into early production using “hotbeds” fueled by manure they brought back from the center cities after delivering their produce. They even had special vegetable varities for “forcing.” Nice system, if you can maintain it…and internal combustion remains a niche market. (Many of these older varieties are now attracting attention as market gardeners move toward the widespread use of “high tunnels.” (7.5MM results from Google in 0.47 seconds)
Beets are just about the only “true” root crop that can be transplanted, and using a few tricks from the market gardeners of the 1800s, we can get ourselves beets 4-6 weeks ahead of normal. Herre are a few more photos of the process. For a full Growing Guide for beets, check out the Crop Guides section of GardenSmarts.com
I had been waiting almost a week (as I am waiting now, maybe another day) for good transplanting weather: relatively cool (not cold), with light to thick overcast, high humidity, light winds.
As every true gardener knows: when the weather, the season, the climate is right: YOU MUST ACT !
So a few days ago, when the weather was right, I clawed a few dozen beet seedlings out of the cold frame where I had sown them in late March. I waited until late in the day, when the sun was spent. Earlier I had done the onions, which have a lot more root for their top than the beets and can handle a “first solo daytime” much better than beets.
The process for beets is not unlike that for transplanting onions: Gouge a trough a few inches deep where you want the row to be; lay the seedlings on one side to set the spacing and plant them each by “setting up” with the soil from the other side of the trough.
Once done, given the weather, I set up a trio of hoops and some shade cloth so the beets would have a chance to re-establish themselves. I will probably take it off during the next cool and cloudy spell to let the plants adjust to their final conditions.