An heirloom is any garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family, just like pieces of heirloom jewelry or furniture. Some companies have tried to create definitions based on date, such as anything older than 50 years.
Crisp and crunchy lettuces, nutty Native American squash, and deep red tomatoes – all conjure up images of down-home goodness and mouth-watering taste. The development of modern hybrid seed has increased crop sizes, created larger yields, but the great tragedy is that they have also sacrificed taste. Modern hybrids were made for commercial growers – to increase volume for the industry, and to give a product that could be shipped across the country without going bad too quickly.. Home gardeners and food conniseurs have no need for hybrid varieties…just tender and delicious home grown vegetables.
Heirloom vegetables are more nutritious
Commercial farmers are now paying a cost for their larger fruits and higher yields. Recent research has revealed that in many cases, these newer hybrid vegetables are significantly less nutritious than heirlooms. Heirloom veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs most.
Heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated
When you select and save seeds from the heirloom vegetables you grow at home, the more reliable those vegetables will become year after year. By doing this you get a better, locally adapted strain of a variety when you save your own seed. You also save money because you don’t have to purchase new seeds every year!
Heirlooms provide a continual harvest
Hybrids are practically “genetically programmed” to grow at the same pace, meaning that seeds planted at the same time will also be ready to harvest at the same time. This is good for commercial farmers who need to pick a crop in one fell swoop. But for home gardeners, a gradual supply of fresh produce is usually preferable, and extends your growing season.
Heirloom seeds are less expensive
Heirloom seeds are cheaper to start with, because they’re untouched. They have not been “tinkered” with in some laboratory, and that saves you money to start with. But the savings keep on increasing over time. If you save your own seeds each growing season, the price for seed eventually drops to zero.
Heirlooms are a piece of history
Almost every heirloom vegetable has a story behind it – where the plant originated, how it came to America, and so on. When you grow heirloom seeds, you’re helping to save our heritage and preserve a bit of our history. Particular varieties of heirloom seeds can be handed down for generations to come. Heirloom seeds are one of your family’s finest antiques.