Meet the Lutz beet (you'll like it)

If you've never heard of the Lutz beet, you're missing something special. You'll never find one in the produce section of your local supermarket (the other beets are prettier) and the seeds aren't easy to find in seed racks. Nevertheless, the Lutz beet is a winner, treasured and planted by knowledgeable gardeners since the turn of the century.

No less an authority than Mrs. David Burpee declares: ''I like the old-fashioned Lutz Green Leaf beet that may not be as handsome, but I think are the sweetest.'' Mrs. Burpee is right.

If you decide to grow them, proper preparation of the soil is important. Like all other root crops, Lutz beets calls for a friable soil that won't crust and doesn't contain rocks. Spade down for at least eight inches and dig in compost and manure. Sow the seeds a half-inch deep in rows 18 inches apart. I like to mix in a few fast-sprouting radish seeds to mark the rows.

The ground must be kept moist until the seedlings emerge in two to three weeks.

Beet seeds are unusual because each seed is really a cluster of seeds and will produce several seedlings. This means they must be thinned or transplanted.

Harvest time for the Lutz beet extends over a long period since you have more choice on size. You can pick them when they are small, of course, but, unlike regular beets, the Lutz variety never becomes tough or woody. As a result, it makes sense to wait and get larger beets for your effort.

You'll probably have to order your Lutz beet seeds by mail. They are available from Burpee Seed Company, Warminster, Pa. 18991; and Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321.

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