Why Use Heirloom Seeds in Your Home Garden?
There was a time when everyone wanted to grow the latest variety of vegetables. Novelty is often welcome and these new forms of well-known vegetables are rightly popular. However novelty can fade.
If we look at the breeding process we soon realize that most breeding is done for commercial growers. In commercial vegetable production there are certain key features that growers want. For example uniform ripening allows for more efficient harvesting. Thicker skins mean produce travels better. Color and form are known to influence choices at the store, so bright color and uniform shape is favored. All these features benefit commercial growers but in the home garden they may not be so desirable.
Ripening over an extended period may be better in the home garden as it avoids gluts of produce and extends the period crops are available for harvesting. Since they only have to travel from the garden to the table, delicate varieties are not a problem. Uneven forms and colors may not matter when prepared and cooked. What does matter though is taste. Everyone wants their food to taste really, really good. Unfortunately commercial breeding often overlooks taste in favor of other characteristics and taste is just lost along the way.
Older, traditional varieties usually excel in taste and even in nutrient content. These varieties, called Heirloom seeds, are worth your attention.
In the past gardeners tended to keep their own seed when they could, and pass on seeds to neighbor and family. Immigrants brought in their suitcases seeds of the old varieties they grew at home and these were preserved in their new gardens.
These heirloom vegetable seeds have been re-discovered by new generations of gardeners and make excellent varieties for the home garden.
Heirloom seeds preserve vital genetic information that may give resistance to pests and diseases. In the future those genes could be introduced into commercial crops and reduce the dependence on pesticides.
Heirloom seeds connect us to previous generations of vegetable gardeners who cared about the taste of the food they grew for their families.
Heirloom vegetable seeds give us variety and different forms and flavours to experiments with in the kitchen.
Ace 55 Tomato is a classic American favorite heirloom variety. It has a bright red flesh and has a lower acidity content than most tomatoes. This is a great choice for anyone with acid reflux As it is heat-tolerant it is an especially good choice for warmer regions.
For colder regions Lacinato Kale, also known as Tuscan Kale, is a heirloom vegetable seed brought over by Italian immigrants that is packed full of vitamins and cancer-fighting properties.
As a dual-purpose vegetable Shogoin Turnips are hard to beat. The leaves can be cooked and the roots roasted, mashed with potatoes or used in stews.
So when choosing varieties for your home garden, be sure to add some heirloom vegetable seeds to give you the benefits of taste as well as organic home-grown vegetables.