What are heirloom vegetables?
Heirloom growers continue to grow these original varieties and so can you. The starter kit allows one to choose an original strand of seed called an Heirloom and grow them immediately and so diversifying its variety and the range of flavours and nutrients. By educating ourselves about the impact we have and the change we can bring we can support the balance in biodiversity and even reintroduce these forgotten species. The product encourages the growing and harvest of vegetables and then sharing the seeds and experience with your peers. In exchange you may receive or exchange a unique variety of seeds amongst your fellow growers.
An heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of it’s valued characteristics. Since ‘heirloom’ varieties have become popular in the past few years there have been liberties taken with the use of this term for commercial purposes.
At TomatoFest Garden Seeds we chose to adopt the definition used by tomato experts, Craig LeHoullier and Carolyn Male, who have classified down heirlooms into four categories:
- Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, or tomato varieties more than 50 years in circulation.
- Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family.
- Created Heirlooms: Crossing two known parents (either two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid) and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for how ever many years/generations it takes to eliminate the undesirable characteristics and stabilize the desired characteristics, perhaps as many as 8 years or more.
- Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties.
(Note: All heirloom varieties are open-pollinated but not all open-pollinated varieties are heirloom varieties.)
Heirloom vs Hybrid
This article was quoted from the Seed savers organization:
This gives you a small introduction to some terms used among heirloom gardeners and are useful things to know in general.
For seed-saving purposes, the most significant distinction among these types is that gardeners can save true-to-type seed from open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, but not hybrids. Here are a few more distinctions that might help you decide what to grow this season:
- Open-pollination is when pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, humans, or other natural mechanisms. Because there are no restrictions on the flow of pollen between individuals, open-pollinated plants are more genetically diverse. This can cause a greater amount of variation within plant populations, which allows plants to slowly adapt to local growing conditions and climate year-to-year. As long as pollen is not shared between different varieties within the same species, then the seed produced will remain true-to-type year after year.
- An heirloom variety is a plant variety that has a history of being passed down within a family or community, similar to the generational sharing of heirloom jewelry or furniture. An heirloom variety must be open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms. While some companies create heirloom labels based on dates (such as a variety that is more than 50 years old), Seed Savers Exchange identifies heirlooms by verifying and documenting the generational history of preserving and passing on the seed.
- Hybridization is a controlled method of pollination in which the pollen of two different species or varieties is crossed by human intervention. Hybridization can occur naturally through random crosses, but commercially available hybridized seed, often labeled as F1, is deliberately created to breed a desired trait. The first generation of a hybridized plant cross also tends to grow better and produce higher yields than the parent varieties due to a phenomenon called ‘hybrid vigor’. However, any seed produced by F1 plants is genetically unstable and cannot be saved for use in following years. Not only will the plants not be true-to-type, but they will be considerably less vigorous. Gardeners who use hybrid plant varieties must purchase new seed every year. Hybrid seeds can be stabilized, becoming open-pollinated varieties, by growing, selecting, and saving the seed over many years.
So what’s it going to be—hybrid, open-pollinated, or heirloom varieties? While hybrids have their benefits, choosing open-pollinated varieties conserves the genetic diversity of garden vegetables and prevents the loss of unique varieties in the face of dwindling agricultural biodiversity. Furthermore, focusing on heirloom varieties creates a historical connection to gardening and food production, building a more sustainable future by carrying on our garden heritage. By choosing open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, you have the ability to help conserve biodiversity and to contribute to the stories behind our seeds.
Self-pollinated plants are those that have what we call “perfect” flowers. This means that instead of needing pollen from one flower to move to the stigma of another, both the pollen and stigma are present in the same flower. Often, all that’s required for pollination is the act of the flower opening, which will transfer pollen to stigma. There is some evidence that plants self-pollinate better with the help of wind or from the gardener merely giving the plant a shake now and then to help the process along, but, in general, self-pollinated plants manage pretty well on their own. We often see self-pollinated plants referred to under the umbrella term “open-pollinated” — simply meaning that they are not hybrid plants, which we’ll discuss later on.
Saving healthy seeds
Saving healthy Seeds
There is a lot of information the web about how to do this the right way.
We encourage you to look at a few links that might make this clear fro you. These guys seems to have it down pat.
how to save seeds: www.howtosaveseeds.com