This article is by Gloria Logan, a Canadian Gardener who grows heirloom or heritage seed varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables in her garden.
Heirloom or heritage seed varieties are old varieties and by definition suitable for seed saving as they come from a time before anyone had even heard of F1 Hybrids.
Flavour, texture and fragrance are primary factors. You don’t care about shipping because the trip is short from your garden to your plate or flower vase.
And if you wonder about fragrance in food, you’ll be amazed at how a freshly sliced organic heirloom cucumber perfumes the whole room. Same with a juicy Noir des Carmes cantaloupe. Or a smoky-flavoured, purple Paul Robeson tomato.
Bull’s Blood Beets live up to their colour as do purple Dragon Carrots and the voluptuous orange of sweet Red Kuri winter squash.
The variety of vegetable colours are just as fascinating as their names and histories. It is the same with flowers such as highly scented Cuprani sweet peas And best of all, there are no licensing fees or patent infringements to worry about.
So, by saving your own seeds, you save a plant you want to grow again and you no longer rely on catalogues which might discontinue your favourites.
How to start growing heirloom, aka heritage, aka open-pollinated varieties?
How does one start growing heirloom, aka heritage, aka open-pollinated varieties? Some people have neighbours who can supply some seeds. For others, speciality heirloom seed catalogues, found on internet searches and in garden magazines, offer a considerable selection of flower and vegetable seeds.
The selection is wide, service is very good by the committed small businesses who supply them, the source country and growing recommendations are always indicated, and the seeds are guaranteed.
However, within this cottage industry, seed prices can be a bit steep for some. But once purchased, perpetuated seeds can be saved for the rest of your lifetime, and passed to heirs.
Early European settlers brought cherished seeds with them to North America, and centuries later many varieties of trees, plants, flowers and vegetables still endure.
Cut Your Costs
Otherwise, carefully select varieties which will best suit your growing area and season length. Resist the temptation to order every variety offered; few gardens are large enough. And do order only what your family is likely to eat.
Once you taste the incredible flavour of an organically grown heirloom vegetable, you’ll not be able to eat grocery store produce again. Then you can slowly introduce new vegetables to your eager family.
And should your neighbour’s hybridized plants fail, you can pass on some of your heritage seeds and further perpetuate the gene line, a privilege every heirloom seed grower possesses.
Seed Saving Articles, Information & Resources
- Saving Your Own Seeds – General Guide to Seed Saving
- Seed Saving to Improve Biodiversity
- Seed Storage & Longevity Lifespan – How Long Seeds Will Keep For
- Seed Germination & Viability Testing
- Seed Saving: Storing Seeds: Seed Viability
- What Are F1 Plants & Seeds: How & Why of F1 Hybrids
- Seed Saving Heirloom or Heritage Seeds
- Seed Saving: Carrots | Save Your Own Carrot Seed
- Seed Saving: Peas | Save Your Own Pea Seed
- Seed Saving: Tomatoes | Save Your Own Tomato Seed