Grow and Make Your Own Sugar: A Step-by-Step Guide to Cultivating Sugar Beets

Grow and Make Your Own Sugar: A Step-by-Step Guide to Cultivating Sugar Beets

Growing sugar beets and making your own sugar can be a rewarding and educational gardening project. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you through the process:

Growing Sugar Beets

growing sugar beets

Sugar beets are a fantastic addition to any garden. To grow them successfully, you need the right soil and planting conditions. Here are some tips to get you started:

Soil and Planting: Sugar beets thrive in well-drained, fertile soil, ideally a sandy loam. They prefer a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH, between 6.0 and 8.0. Prepare the soil by tilling and removing debris like rocks and weeds.

Sowing Seeds: Plant the seeds at a depth of about 1.5 inches, in rows spaced 18 inches apart. Initially, sow the seeds 1 inch apart and then thin them to 4-5 inches apart once they’ve grown a few pairs of true leaves.

Care and Maintenance: Sugar beets require full sunlight and moderate watering to keep the soil consistently moist. They are hardy in temperate zones, usually zones 6-10. If temperatures drop below 40°F, add mulch for protection, or use partial shade if it gets too hot.

Harvesting: Sugar beets reach maturity in about 90-100 days. When it’s time to harvest, simply pull them out of the ground and wash them thoroughly.

Making Your Own Sugar

boil sugar beets in a large pot

Once you have harvested your sugar beets, it’s time to extract the sweet goodness and turn it into sugar. Here’s how you can do it at home:

Preparation: After harvesting, clean the beets thoroughly and cut off the greens. Dice or shred the beets into small cubes to maximize the surface area for sugar extraction.

Boiling: Place the diced beets in a large pot with water just enough to cover them. Bring to a boil and let them boil for about an hour. Then, strain the beet pulp from the liquid, reserving the liquid which contains your sugar.

Reducing the Liquid: Return the strained liquid to the pot and simmer until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. This process can take several hours.

Drying and Grinding: Once the liquid has reduced, pour the syrup into trays to dry. This can take several days to weeks. After it’s fully dried, break the sugar up and grind it into a granular form.

Yield: Expect about 1 pound of sugar for every 10 pounds of beets. The final product will be a dark brown sugar with a flavor similar to molasses.


Making your own sugar from sugar beets can be a labor-intensive process, and the yield may not be as large as store-bought sugar. However, it offers a unique and educational experience that can be rewarding and fun. Keep these things in mind as you embark on this gardening adventure:

  • The sugar beet growing process is relatively straightforward but requires attention to soil quality and plant spacing.
  • The sugar-making process is labor-intensive and the yield is relatively small compared to the effort. It’s more of an educational or hobbyist undertaking than a practical way to produce sugar.
a bowl with sugar

So, are you ready to get your hands dirty and grow your own sugar? This project not only allows you to have a deeper understanding of how sugar is produced, but it also gives you the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself. Enjoy gardening and sugar-making!