Heirloom seeds produce vegetable varieties that have been around for 50 years or more. These are the vegetables your grandmother grew. These are the vegetables that were around before the food pyramid, before the Department of Agriculture, before the huge agrobusinesses that create most of the "food" on store shelves today ... Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog .
Like most of you, I spent the last couple of months perusing the seed catalogs piled high on my coffee table. You will agree it is the perfect way to spend a cold, snowy winter's afternoon, just dreaming of the perfect kitchen garden. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't buy heirloom seeds as a rule, although I always choose reputable companies that sell organic products. Last year, I contributed to an article in my local newspaper about what to consider when choosing a seed company. A fellow master gardener, Lisa, also contributed to the article. She said she ordered from Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but rereading the article today, I decided to learn more about heirloom plants.
Why Choose Heirlooms?
(The italics are from Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog .)
1. Heirlooms are tough. Many heirloom varieties have been around for centuries, and over the years they've seen diseases come and go. Built-in to their genetic code is the ability to fight off some of these diseases.
This is the number one reason that sold me on heirlooms. I need some innate toughness in my plants following a less than perfect couple of years in my vegetable garden. I garden organically, with no chemicals, so it is important that I have disease-resistant plants.
|I usually only share the successes.|
2. Vegetables grown from heirloom seeds are more nutritious than store-bought vegetables. One reason is because they are grown in nutrient-rich soil, and not bred just to look pretty. Heirlooms thrive in nutrient-rich soil, and they pack all of that goodness into every bite. This supports my belief in the importance of first growing great soil.
|I add a deep layer of compost to my beds in early spring.|
3. Heirlooms support American farmers. They need our support!
4. Heirloom are open-pollinated. That means if you harvest seeds from your heirlooms and plant them again, you'll get the same great stuff in the next generation. I don't collect and keep seeds usually, because the hybrids I've purchased in the past are unlikely to reproduce a similar plant.
|Native flowers in the kitchen garden attract pollinators.|
5. Annie assures us that heirlooms taste fantastic!
|If only I could get them to eat their vegetables!|
Today, I placed an order for organic heirloom seeds and can't wait for them to arrive. I know many of you are way ahead of me, having used heirloom seeds for years, and I would appreciate any hints, advice, or experiences you would like to share. I will keep you updated on my new venture.
|My potting shed is ready. And so am I.|
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