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The Elusive Golden Beet

July 25th, 2013

I love golden beets, there’s just something about that beautiful golden color. Red beets are great too, but the golden ones are my favorites for roasting. Each year I plant seeds for golden beets and end up disappointed. Germination is never as good as it is with the red beets I plant, sometimes none of the seeds germinate.
golden beet harvest
This year was no different. I planted almost an entire packet of golden beets this spring and only about 15 germinated. The seeds were fresh, or they should have been as they were purchased this spring. My first thought was that I had planted them too early and the soil was too cool. However, I planted more seeds a couple weeks ago and not one seed germinated. I planted red beets last week and they’re already popping out of the soil.
golden beets 2
Luckily, I do have a few golden beets in the garden, not as many as I’d like. Next spring I’ll be ordering seed from a different source to see if perhaps the seeds I’ve had in the past were not very fresh (I have tried seed from a few different places). I’ve been very impressed with seeds from Johnny’s and High Mowing, so I’m planning on ordering a packet from each to see how they fare.
golden beets 1
If I do find a source of seed that germinates well I might consider trying to save seed from them. Freshness is often a key in good germination.

Is there a vegetable you can’t seem to grow no matter what you try?

27 Comments to “The Elusive Golden Beet”
  1. kristin @ going country on July 25, 2013 at 6:18 am

    I suck at fall crop vegetables–carrots, beets, spinach, whatever. These things do fine in the spring, but never do I manage a substantial fall harvest of them. Not sure if I don’t plant them at the right time or if there’s not enough rain or what, but I keep trying, with limited success.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on July 25, 2013 at 6:47 am

      Might be not enough rain to soil temp. I never had good luck in Ohio either when it came to fall crops.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Marina C on July 25, 2013 at 6:51 am

    I tried again this year, soaked the seed, watered well, I would say I have a 15% germination rate as best. But I will have a dozen or do, better than none!
    I’ll keep on trying.

    Reply to Marina C's comment

    • Joan on July 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      You probably already know this, but parsnip seed needs to be fresh every year. I sometimes plant old seed (I did this year) but plant it very very heavily and just thin if I get too many… It also germinates very slowly.

      Reply to Joan's comment

  3. MountainMisty on July 25, 2013 at 7:12 am

    This was my first year growing in pots and none of my herb seeds came up, basil, oregano and thyme. I’ll be starting the fall crops here pretty soon. I think my seed was fresh enough, but my soil needs to be more light and airy. Also I think my seed depth when I planted was too far down because I didn’t want the birds to eat the seed…so I’ll have to pay more attention to planting depth.

    Reply to MountainMisty's comment

  4. Adriana on July 25, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I’ve had the same experience with golden beets. For some reason mesclun mix never does well either. All the lettuces come up fine, but anything else in the mix either doesn’t germinate well or struggles from flea beetle pressure even if I cover it with remay. I’m just about done with ordering the mix, next year I’m planning on planting lettuce mixes and then just picking young chard, kale, etc to add to it in the kitchen.

    Reply to Adriana's comment

    • Lemongrass on July 25, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      if you allow your plants to seed, you can make your mixes yourself. I have tried it before and the result was pleasing.

      Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  5. Mich on July 25, 2013 at 7:58 am

    It doesn’t seem to matter where you get your ‘golden beet’ seed from, the germination rate is poor.
    I have tried so many different suppliers, all fresh packets and still the germination sucks..
    I’m going to try growing them in modules next & then plant out into the garden rather than wasting ground space.
    Thank goodness the normal red & striped ‘choggia’ beets are both reliable and good croppers.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on July 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

    My vegetables that I struggle with are broccoli, cabbage, and sometimes carrots. I just can’t seem to get them to grow or keep the bugs away.

    Have a great day in the garden.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  7. kathi Cook on July 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Spinach never does well for me. This year I had volunteers pop up in the spring. They were doing well at first then died. I haven’t tested my soil,but think I may be lacking something. All other greens and lettuces do great.

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

  8. Rachel on July 25, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Chamomile! Finally had some success when I asked my mom to start a few for me.

    I feel like I could use a whole post on good seed companies with good germination rates. I love Seed Savers as a company, but don’t have great luck with their seed.

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  9. Victoria in CT on July 25, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I cannot get parsley to grow – always does poorly or dies.

    Reply to Victoria in CT's comment

  10. Songbirdtiff on July 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I have terrible luck germinating carrots, of all things. I think it’s because the soil is so hot and dry here when it’s time to plant them for fall, that it’s just hard to keep them moist enough to germinate well. I keep trying!

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  11. Colleen on July 25, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I thought it was just me, I guess we should be very happy with the three golden beets that we actual ate. All the other red beets are perfect.
    We have trouble growing garlic, everyone else in our area has an abundance. And our asparagus seems to struggle as well.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  12. Nita on July 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I’ve found the same thing with the golden beet and have finally settled for Three Root Grex from Fedco, which is a mix of colors. I have a feeling the yellow is the weak link, my golden chard will freeze out long before the other colors, and it doesn’t get that cold here during the winter.

    Reply to Nita's comment

  13. val on July 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I thought it was just me! There are fewer varieties of golden beet. Has anyone tried the elongated/cylindrical ones?

    Reply to val's comment

  14. Annie on July 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Green onions from seed. I have never, ever been able to get them to germinate.

    Reply to Annie's comment

  15. scott on July 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Golden beets never do as well for me either but i get fairly consistent germination from them year to year. I suspect it may be soil type as i grow them in a loose sandy loam with an irrigation system keeping them moist. i typically plant them in May.

    @Val I grew the cylindrical beets this year and they did pretty well. They were easier to process had nice leaves and were tasty!

    Reply to scott's comment

    • val on July 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      @scott thanks for the report! I’ve admired them in seed catalogs but never eaten them.

      Reply to val's comment

  16. Joy Giles on July 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I planted them this year for the first time. (Austin Texas) They actually did fairly well although some germinated later than others. Had to thin due to sowing too closely. I didn’t baby them — maybe beginners luck.

    Reply to Joy Giles's comment

  17. Nicole on July 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I have the exact same problem with golden beets! I am in Ontario, Canada, and buy my seeds from a local supplier. Out of an entire packet I am lucky to have 10 seedlings. The germination rate seems to be similar to that of parsnips in my garden.

    Reply to Nicole's comment

  18. Molly Severtson on July 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Basil! I guess it’s just not warm enough hear in Central Montana. :)

    Reply to Molly Severtson's comment

  19. Deb on July 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Have had trouble all but one year growing golden beets in Ohio. Parsnips did great and I think they all came up and I don’t like them. They never died last winter and I didn’t mulch. Let one seed and collected seed from a very large root. Herbs do best started early indoors. Some I never get to come up. I have an excellent greenhouse so decided some I just buy at a nursery.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  20. Jodiana on July 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

    I also have a hard time growing beets. I just planted my fall garden with beets in a large area. I didn’t know the importance of fresh seed for the little buggers so now I need to go buy new seed and replant the whole area!

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

  21. Emily on December 28, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I have been getting my golden beet seeds from Baker Creek, rareseeds dot com, and I am in Alaska and they germinate and grow just fine for me like the other beets. But I start mine indoors in an ice cream bucket a month before the snow is gone. I soak the seeds for 30 mins in warm water, pat them dry and plant 4 seeds around the outside edge of one jiffy peat pellet in a plastic dixi cup and then when the seed germinates I use thin scissors to cut the pellet into 4 pieces and put each germinated seeds section of pellet in specialty organic potting soil in the big plastic ice cream bucket. I use Fox Farm’s Ocean Forrest soil. I used to have trouble getting some things to germinate when I tried the grocery store brands of potting soil available, but once I tried the Fox Farm kind I have had a 99% germination rate on hundreds of different kinds of veggies except one kind of russian black tomato. I buy my jiffy peat pellets once every 3 years in bulk and get them for just 10 cents each so it is still economical to use them. Look for a local Hydroponics supply store for the cheap pellets and the specialty dirt. up here in AK it retails for $29 for a 2.5 cu ft bag but I buy it in bulk for a discount and then all my friends use it so it is more affordable for the good stuff :)
    Golden beets need temps at 70 degrees, moist, and the light 4 inches away from the pellet top for the best germination. it can take up to two weeks for them to germinate. Once they are a month old and the evening temp isn’t going below 55 degrees, they can be hardened off outside for a week or so before planting outside in a plot or just keep them in a container. They do well in containers :)
    Hope this helps!

    Reply to Emily's comment

  22. Reid on March 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Carrots never work well for me. I will be sticking to the farmers market this year.

    Reply to Reid's comment

  23. Chris Guest on April 19, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I just stumbled on your podcast and blog. Really enjoying them. I have the same trouble with the golden beets. They just don’t seem to be as lively as the Detroit dark red ones. I’ve tried twice now, and only got a small percentage of golden seeds to germinate. I have one golden beet plant trying to go to seed now. Maybe I’ll have more luck with the fresher seeds.

    Reply to Chris Guest's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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