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January 11, 2010

Heirloom plants make a big comeback


41+lEY6ZyyL._SL500_AA280_.jpgThe heirloom varieties started showing up about 10 years ago, and for the last few years have been very big with the gardeners in my location. I have ignored the heirloom craze feeling like it was a passing fad and have kept doggedly to the varieties that do well for me: Early Girl tomatoes; Big Boy; and the Sun Gold cherry. But this year I'm going to explore some heirloom varieties.

What changed my mind is that so many varieties of plants are disappearing. Heirlooms have been ignored largely because industrial farming wanted fruits and vegetables that would withstand shipping. After all, a really ripe tomato can't be rolled down a conveyer belt and be squished into a semi load to be hauled across the country. The large farms also wanted consistency and a resistence to drought, insects and pesticides. Thus arose the horror of "Roundup Ready" varieties of vegetables able to withstand large amounts of that pesticide. Does that whet your appetite? That's when I begin to loose mine.

I started to investigate the heirloom craze and discovered that I have always grown an heirloom variety, Kentucky Wonder pole beans. These beans were considered the food of the gods in Indiana where I grew up. My father's favorite meal was a mess of those beans cooked with pork fat, a side of cole slaw, and fresh, ripened tomatoes with home baked cornbread. So when I started gardening, I chose Kentucky Wonders quite naturally. Apparently, Black Beauty eggplant is heirloom as are Lemon Cucumbers. So I have been growing Heirloom varieties all along. This next year, I'm going to concentrate of heirloom tomatoes. Brandywine Heirlooms are big fruited and gorgeous and furthermore, I like the name, it reminds me of my childhood, so I"m trying to grow them. You can save the seed from heirlooms and they will come true to type next year. Plus they will very slowly adapt to your garden conditions and should improve with time.

I'll be blogging more about this experiment this year and discussing the pros and cons of heirloom seed growing.

Amazon carries quite a few heirloom seeds.

At Black Brandywine Tomato 30 Seeds - Heirloom

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at January 11, 2010 8:10 AM
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