Why grow heirlooms? It’s a question I get asked often. Maybe you’ve always purchased hybrid seed or grown whatever seed you can find at your local garden center. Perhaps you are wondering if there is a good reason to grow heirloom varieties instead. Indeed, there are many advantages to growing heirloom vegetables over other kinds of seed. Here are a few great reasons why we think heirlooms are so great:
Heirlooms Are Delicious
First and foremost, heirlooms taste great! Their commercial counterparts, the hybrid and GMO seeds, are developed to grow quickly and cheaply, with the highest yields possible. Rather than taste, overall uniformity and a long shelf life are key traits wanted by commercial growers. That’s why the tomato at the grocery store tastes bland and lifeless compared to the one you buy straight from the small local farmer. If you choose to grow heirlooms in your garden, you’ll be choosing superior taste that you simply cannot buy at the supermarket.
Heirlooms Help You Save Money
Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, which means that you can save your seed year after year. Quite literally, with heirlooms you can buy one packet of seed and never have to purchase them again! Simply save some of your seed at harvest time and store it up for the following year. Then, repeat the process the following year. Using heirloom seed will give you more money in your pocket, freeing up more money in your pocket for new raised beds, gardening tools, or other fun things for the garden!
Heirlooms Are Better For You
Research suggests that heirlooms are more nutritious than their commercial counterparts. This is probably because hybrid and GMO varieties are changed to maximize harvests, and this is often at the expense of nutritional value. Grow heirlooms instead, and you’ll potentially be putting better nutrition on your plate!
Heirlooms Give You More Choices
There are many different heirloom vegetables you can try. Go down to your local gardening center or store and look around. You’ll find a few different varieties of tomatoes, maybe one or two different kinds of squash and okra, and a handful of lettuces to try. Now, look at an heirloom-only catalog or supplier and notice there are so many more options. Instead of just a few tomato varieties, you have potentially hundreds – even thousands – to choose from! If you like to grow “something different” in your garden, heirlooms will give you that ability. With heirlooms, there is something unique for everyone.
Heirlooms Are Pretty To Look At
Heirlooms offer you plenty of colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from. You can grow something that not only tastes great, but also looks beautiful. Heirlooms have gorgeous color schemes and the presentation of the produce is something to behold. That’s why chefs love heirloom vegetables. They not only taste great, they look beautiful on a plate!
Heirlooms Adapt Naturally
By growing your own heirlooms and saving your seed each year, you will end up with the healthiest plants possible. Heirlooms will adapt naturally over time to their environment. (God’s way – not in some laboratory!) They will respond, adapt, and change to the climate and local pests and diseases without the need of franken-science. Simply save seed each year from your healthiest, most robust plants and plant them again the following year.
Heirlooms Are Like Old Friends
Sadly, many wonderful varieties of vegetables have been lost over time. Our modern “hurry up” society has traded taste and nutrition for profit and gain. And in doing so, we’ve seen some heirlooms die out. Growing heirlooms gives you a way to preserve a little piece of the past. When you choose to grow heirlooms over hybrid and GMO seed, you are choosing to keep an “old friend” in the garden and potentially save it from extinction!
Heirlooms Have A Story To Tell
Behind nearly every heirloom vegetable, there is a story to be told. Passed down from generation to generation through the years, heirlooms are a living piece of history. For instance, you can grow several of the same varieties of vegetables Thomas Jefferson himself grew at Monticello! And perhaps one day, you’ll pass on a piece of your personal heirloom seed collection to your children and grandchildren. Won’t that be a neat story to tell? It’s like giving your children a real treasure, a family antique …
Heirlooms are worth growing for so many great reasons. Won’t you try growing some? You won’t regret it.