Can beets be destroyed by frost? Yes and No. I always plant beets as early as I can work the soil. Sometimes that's late March. Sometimes early to mid April. Beets can handle the cold. In fact, they get dry and hard in really hot weather.
So then why did half of my beets die during this last week of weather in the twenties....
I have a theory. This theory is supported by the fact that a certain percentage of my bok choy also bit the dust this week.
I arrange my garden in a square foot gardening fashion so I had 2 squares of beets planted. 9 in each for a total of 18 beets.
If you've planted beets, then you know their seeds are multiploid and many seedlings (2-4) pop up in the spot where you planted one seed.
Well, I had a pretty solid germination rate in the first square (8 out of 9) and a spotty rate in the second - (4 out of 9.) This is just random luck and I decided to split up some of the seedlings that were growing together to make up for the poor germination spots.
I carefully separated the seedlings and transplanted them to their new spots. They seemed okay the first day. A couple of cold nights in the twenties for extended hours was just too much for them and they eventually died.
Their roots were tender. The ground was dry. The weather was beyond cold....
The square with 8 out of 9 germination lived on to fight another day. They were not picked at to provide new transplants and since they were not disturbed, they survived the frost just fine.
This also happened with my bok choy. I had such great transplant success from the greenhouse to the garden with the bok choy.
I had transplanted them in pairs *just in case.*
So last week I separated the pairs. The transplants moved to where the squash will be and I intended to pick them early and eat them as young greens. More than half of the transplants died. The plants that stayed in their original spaces flourished and even grew! Almost nothing is "growing" in sub-freezing temperatures so their growth made me happy.
So let this be a lesson to all who garden - do not transplant anything right before a cold spell. Even cold hardy plants are tender in the first few days of transplant.