Growing Beets Experiment

White Plastic vs. No Plastic

By George Nagrodsky Posted on 10/10/22

Growing beets in zone 8, the recommended planting dates are August 15 to September 30, but the problem is that it’s still 90-95F every day. Fall crops don’t like this kind of heat. 

Growing Beets: Our Experiment 

We designed an experiment to see whether growing beets in white plastic (plasticulture)  vs. bare soil. My thoughts are that the white plastic will help cool the soil. Then late in the season the white will reflect light into the plants. Over the next few months we will compare the results. 

Beets with Plastic

The Process of Growing Beets

We enriched our soil with slow-release nitrogen and phosphorus (0-45-0) because a soil test showed none in the soil. Also, in the past I had problems with the beets not developing any roots. Using Garden Savvy’s growing guides I learned that boron is important, so I apply boron several times during the growing season. Works like a charm. I also apply crab shells to help with calcium and to improve the organic ecosystem of the soil.

Beets without plastic

I planted the same varieties of beets in both plastic and “dirt” and covered the plastic culture beets with white shade fabric to reduce exposure to the heat and sun. Surprisingly the “dirt” grown beets so far are growing faster. However, they also developed Cercospora leaf spot. Utilizing the Garden Savvy Plant Information section, I determined the disease and treatment. 

Cercospora leaf spot
Cercospora leaf spot

Note in the “dirt” photo one row of beets is smaller than those planted next to it. For some reason the entire row didn’t germinate so I had to replant. I have no idea why this happened.