What’s the deal with heirloom seeds? 

Hello Again Everyone!

We’ve been as busy as ever here at work on the homestead.  Along with our project of growing a year’s worth of food we are also dabbling in heirloom seeds, plants and seed saving for the first time really.  It is something that we have tried in the past but not with any real seriousness! Well this year 159 tomato plants, 13 different varieties, 5 of which are heirlooms later, HERE WE GO!



What are heirloom seed
s? 

Many people seem to be under the assumption that all heirloom seeds are organic, and that is a false assumption. We’ve also discussed in the past that an organic title on a seed is just that without having the organic growing process to back it up.  More frequently used is the term open pollinators, now this is where it gets a little bit tricky and it makes me think of something my dad told me growing up when we would go to the Shriner’s Rodeo.  ALL heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, BUT not all open-pollinated seeds are heirloom seeds.  Similar to what my father would tell me about the Shriner’s,

All Shriners are FreeMasons but, not all FreeMasons are Shriners.

Which can be confusing, many immediately make the conclusion that the two terms are interchangeable, but they’re not.

When you think of anything that is labeled as an heirloom, there is immediately the knowledge of it being old, being handed down whether its jewelry or China, or seeds! In fact most of the heirloom seeds around have been around for about 100 years, some varieties aren’t even available commercially which means the only way for a new heirloom farmer to get their hands on them is to seed swap with someone who has managed to save them over the years.

What are the benefits to planting heirloom seeds?

Heirloom seeds are heirlooms because most people think they have better flavor, and that flavor and the desire to keep it, has kept them being passed along by generations. Heirloom seeds have been bred by a range of growers across the globe, an unlike their younger hybrid counterparts they were bred for their individual environments and for their flavor.
The seeds that have been kept and passed along were the best of the best!

They came from the best growing plants in that areas soil, and from the plants that produced the best product. Heirloom seeds have the ability to get better over time because of this specific breeding process.

Let’s take a look at my seedlings for example: 

DSC00216

This is one of my Black Krim Heirloom tomatoes.


Now this is my first season dabbling in heirloom plants, again going into the subject of being preppers, no we aren’t preppers we are simply prepared. Being my first season I got my heirloom seeds from Ferry Morse Seed Company, the company itself is an heirloom having been around since before the American Civil War! I consider them to be a trusted source because they’re the company my father used, my grandfather used and my great grandfather.  Now the Black Krim itself originated in Crimea, a tomato of Russian descent with thick disk like dark fleshed tomatoes wasn’t exactly enjoying its time in my greenhouse. I used selection process when deciding which young seedlings would move on to an outdoor greenhouse, which seedlings appeared to be the best of the best. I’ve already tented them outside as well, this way I can begin to pick plants that have good cold tolerance I’ve started labeling these plants with a red S on their marker sticks. As these plants then transplant into main garden spaces we will then further determine from these plants which tolerated our gardens soil the best.
Ultimately it will break down to this. 

  • Top 10 plants in the indoor greenhouse will get to go outdoors
  • Top 5 growers  who tolerated zone 6B temperature fluctuations the best
  • Top 3 growers post transplant 
  • Top 2 growers and producers 

Those TOP 2 will provide our Black Krim seeds for next year. 

But the ability to breed the best of the best in regards to flavor and growth aren’t the only reasons that people love heirlooms. There is also the thought they have a higher nutritional value versus they hybrid counterparts. Thats right! Heirloom plants have a better nutritional value. According to a 2004 study put out by the University of Texas that was published in the “Journal of American College of Nutrition”,  said that hybrid varieties of winter and fall crops studied like peas, kale and spinach had significantly less nutritional value today than they did 50 years ago, in categories like calories, protein, vitamin A, and so much more!

They’re ability to become FREE, yes that’s right FREE, also makes it Heirloom seeds for the WIN! 

Because you can save heirloom seeds, and you can plant them the following season and get almost the same plant it means that ULTIMATELY if you were to begin a garden made up soley of heirloom seeds YOU COULD HAVE A ZERO COST GARDEN!

ZERO!

Why save seeds and how?

Well as for the WHY? The answer is right there above ZERO COST GARDENING! The ability to start a garden at ZERO cost to yourself is huge! Especially if you are on a budget! Saving seeds also gives you the ability to create your own super species of plants that you KNOW will be successful in your garden!

As for the how you will have to wait until later in the season and we will show you!

Until next time!
Tara

 

 

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