Why Use Heirloom Seeds?
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Growing a home vegetable garden is a great idea! But what seeds should you get to maximize the value from your garden. Heirloom seeds would be the seeds I recommend. These are seeds that have an ancient heritage and are proven producers.
What Are Heirloom Seeds?
Heirloom vegetables are plants that have been grown from seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation. They are seeds that are open-pollinated, meaning they rely on natural pollination from insects or the wind.
Heirloom seeds are not hybrids or genetically modified. The genetically modified, (GMO), vegetables are modified to encourage the plant produces in large volumes of fruit that take longer to spoil. This modification however, often results in less flavour and a diminishing of the nutritional value of the fruit.
Hybrids can be a better option than GMO seeds, but the problem with hybrids are when you want to save seeds from your excess production for the following season. The seeds from hybrid varieties will often not grow at all, or will produce a substandard plant with low fruiting capability. This is because the seeds from the hybrid will revert to one or other of the original plant types, and not carry the benefits of the hybridisation.
Take a look at these great videos on seed saving from Mark at Self Sufficient Me. You can get some great tips for saving seeds for your next season.
4 Benefits Of Heirloom Seeds
There are many benefits to using heirloom seeds as a backyard, or self sufficient grower. One of the main ones being eating healthier foods that offer better nutrition.
1. More Nutritious
Most gardeners that use heirloom seeds will agree that the fruit produced by these seeds are tastier and are much more flavourful than store bought alternatives. Not only is the flavour better, but the nutritional value that you get out of the heirloom varieties gives you better value and health benefits.
Hybrids and GMO’s have been programmed to be drought resistant, insect and pest resistant and for the fruit to ripen all at once, which can also be problematic. All this modification is good for production and commercial farming, but the side effect is a loss of nutritional value and taste.
2. Open Or Natural Pollination
The pollination method of the heirloom varieties is open pollination. This effectively means that natural pollination methods are used. These methods include bees or other pollinators, or wind pollination. Hybrids and GMO’s generally require human intervention for proper pollination.
3. Better Ripening
Hybrid or GMO seeds are often programmed to ripen all at once, giving a huge supply in a short space of time. You then have to deal with more produce than you can handle or use in a short space of time.
Heirloom varieties ripen in a more even, constant manner, giving you a longer harvest time throughout the growing season.
This is a surprising and yet welcome factor of heirloom seeds. They are generally cheaper than most other hybrid or GMO varieties.
Where To Source Heirloom Seeds
Most areas that are outside of major cities will have a local supplier of heirloom seeds. But if you live in the city, all is not lost! Heirloom varieties can often be found at farmers markets, or can be ordered online
If you live in South Africa, like me, two sources of heirloom seeds that I have used with success are Living Seeds and Seeds For Africa.
In Australia, you can source seeds from Heirloom Harvest. Our American readers can take a look at Annies Heirlooms and our UK friends can try Real Seeds.
If all else fails, you can even source heirloom seeds from online shopping portals such as Amazon. Listed below are some examples you can source from them.
Why Not Give It A Try
The benefits of using heirloom seeds make it worth the effort to track down a supplier and get some seeds for your garden. They are cheap, and also offer you the opportunity of saving seed for your next season, making the initial investment even more cost effective.
You will love the extra taste you get from your produce! The health benefits you get from your crop and the fact that you are growing your own food will make you a convert!
Why not give heirloom seeds a try?
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Excellent article. People don’t always realize the impotance of heirloom seeds and how much tastier the produce usually. How important it is to our future and how dangerous geneticaly modified seeds are. Thanks for sharing all your ideas and tips. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!
Excellent information Frank. Thank you for this post. We are using heirloom seeds. We have been for ourselves, and will to provide products to our customers. Its important to note that any GMO brought from a store can be at its end of life after storage and transport etc. The benefit to our brands using heirlooms is the appearance of getting more flavor and longevity from the fruits of these plants. Its a matter of handling and how close to your market you provide your vegetables. Huge factors that farm to table can make in quality for our folks nearby. Bigger is not always better. Leon J. Rice Ricesmountainfarm
Thanks for the comment Leon, I am finding that more and more customers are becoming aware of the benefits of homegrown heirloom varieties and the demand for this healthier alternative seems to be on the increase as awareness grows!
I am gonna go after heirloom seeds now! Thanks.