Friday, January 3, 2014

Heirloom seeds

      Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down (usually in a family) and grown year after year. This is often because it grows well in a certain area, has great flavor or texture, or some other characteristic that has made it valuable to the family. While the term open pollinated is often used interchangeably with heirloom and while it is true that all heirloom seeds are open pollinated not all open pollinated seeds are heirloom. Open pollinated mean just what it's name suggests- the seed can be saved and replanted the next year and will grow the same as the plant before. Most heirlooms are at least 100 years old or more meaning they have stood the test of time as far as being desirable to plant. Although, some people have different criteria for heirloom- 1920's and up, 1950's and up - before GMO's- you get the drift. Either way it needs to have been around for some time.

Heirlooms are usually more flavorful than hybrids
Heirloom seeds can be saved, thus eliminating the need for purchasing seeds every year
When they are saved they grow "true to type" each year giving you consistent results
When you use heirloom seeds you are preserving strains that have remained for many years
They don't produce at the same time allowing some time between ripe veggies or fruit

Pro's of Hybrids:
Hybrids do allow for more disease resistance
They have a higher more uniform yield (if you are wanting a lot to ripen at the same time for canning and such it can give it to you)
They are more marketable as they don't bruise as easy and stay fresh longer (one of the main reasons they were created).

In the end you have to decide which to plant or maybe do a combination of both and see which you prefer. We are not exclusive either way, but try to do a little of each. I love the thoughts of planting something that was used a long time ago... call it sentimental but there you go.  I also like a tasty tomato with lots of flavor.

I really don't have much experience as I have only been gardening a short time and only use a few heirlooms. This year I will be using more heirlooms so we shall see. I could end up being a heirloom girl - I like the idea of it. I will just have to see how well I do at growing and if I am any good at saving seeds.

If you are interested in heirloom seeds here are some websites to help you find some:

Seed-Exchange websites:

Anyone have experience with heirloom vs. other seeds? Any advice or extra information- I'm sure many of you are more knowledgeable about it all. Would love to hear from you! :) Happy garden planning and seed picking everyone!

Mom and E