Gardening Q&A:why isn't my beetroot thriving?

The experts at the RHS answer your gardening questions...

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Question: I have tried growing  beetroot for the first time this year. I bought small plugs in spring and planted them in what I think is good quality soil but after a bit of digging around I have found that there are no big fat beetroots beneath the soil, just lots of leaves on top.

I’m so disappointed. What has gone wrong?

Answer: The main reason for a profusion of foliage without the roots is usually due to lack of consistent water and, or, being planted too close together. The ideal spacing for your young plugs is 10cm (4in) which will allow roots to grow to golfball size; harvest alternate roots and leave the rest to mature.

Although most root vegetables are best sown direct, it does work well to buy or sow beetroot in modules or plugs and plant them out. It is important not to let them become constricted in the plugs as the roots will not develop. And the good news is that beetroot will tolerate some shade, so as long as your crop gets half a day of sun every day, beetroot should grow well.

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