Let’s start with . . . what exactly is a Heirloom seed?
Heirloom seeds come from plants that are really old like me, even older really. I was born in 1956, most or all heirloom seeds come from plants that were being actively grown prior to 1951. Why 1951? What’s so significant about that? I find this interesting because around that time lots of things were going on in the world. World War II had just ended, this thing called television was just making it’s appearance in the world. And at or about the same time scientists had figured out a way through cross pollination to create new varieties of plants that were supposed to be superior to the plants that our grandparents had grown and loved for years. These new introductions were called Hybrids.
Are Hybrid Seeds Better?
At the time they were said to be better, many gardeners considered them to be better because the fruit and vegetables had better color, better taste, the plants produced more fruit and vegetables. Plants were said to be more resistant to pests that often caused issues with the old standard plants. The buying public seemed to love them and sales boom and still boom to this day.
Why the sudden demand for Heirloom seeds?
That’s a good question and one that I am trying to figure out because all of a sudden, or at least it seems all of a sudden to me, heirlooms seeds are all the rage. So I’ve decided to devote some time to this subject of seeds and I’m curious to see what you have to say about this?
One of the big advantages of growing heirloom vegetables in your garden is that when you save the seeds from these plants you get plants that are true to the parent plant. In other words, the plants that you grow will be identical to the plant that you collected the seeds from. Or at least as identical as you can get when growing from seed.
It’s a Sexual Thing.
When you grow plants from seed you are creating new plants by means of sexual reproduction which is what nature intended, but as with all forms of sexual reproduction there are variations. That’s why us humans, we all sorta look alike, yet we are all unique. Heirloom seeds are a product of sexual reproduction.
Aren’t Hybrid Seeds also a Form of Sexual Reproduction?
Well sorta, but with hybrids there’s some hanky panky going on. The pollination process (fertilization) is controlled and or manipulated. Tampered with really. Intentionally tampered with in an effort to control the out come of the reproduction process. Like TV, when hybrids first appeared on the market many thought they were the greatest thing ever. Today, many question the use of hybrid seeds, just like they question the value of TV in our lives.
Do Heirloom Vegetables Taste Better?
You tell me. I’m sure you have more experience with heirloom vegetables than I do so I am hoping that you will enlighten me about your experiences growing hybrid vegetables and fruits. Post your comments below.
There are many advantages to heirloom plants. For one thing, they have been around for ever and ever which means that they’ve had centuries to adapt to the environment in which they are being grown and they have built in defense mechanisms to fend off insects and disease. Plants grown from heirloom seed are as tough as nails. Years and years of exposure has allowed them to create their own immune system that has allowed them to survive all of these years.
Are Heirloom Vegetables Healthier, more Nutritious?
Many will answer that question with an astounding yes! Many people believe that hybrid plants are being bred for more and more production which results in a lot of fruit and vegetables without much taste or nutrition. I tend to agree with this statement if in fact hybrids produce a lot more fruit and veggies in a shorter amount of time. I learned years ago with landscape plants that the slower growing the plant, the better the plant in the long run.
An example. Forsythia verses Japanese maple. Forsythia grow like weeds, flower like crazy, but . . . it’s rare that I ever put one in the many landscapes that I designed over the years. Way too vigorous, just not fair to my customers. Japanese maples on the other hand? I put one in just about every landscape that I designed because they grow slowly and require little care. And they are beautiful!
So armed with that experience I think any plant that takes more time making a vegetable is probably going to do a better job of it. But that’s just me and I’m sure somebody will tell me why I’m wrong. And . . . I’m fine with that.
The True Attraction to Heirloom Vegetables?
They can be passed on from generation to generation. Don’t you wish that you had seeds from the tomatoes that your grandmother, or great grandmother grew. If you do, good for you! If you don’t, why not do that for the future generations in your family? Boy I wish I had seeds from Aunt Mona’s Sweet Corn, or Grannies Smokin Hot Peppers.
Your thoughts? Post them below.