Heirloom Seeds and Vegetables

The selling of heirloom seeds is growing at an extremely fast rate. 'Heirloom', otherwise known as 'heritage', plants are those plant varieties that were grown before the practice of modern agricultural techniques and are genetically distinct from modern varieties. organic seed

Typically they were handed down from generation to generation and valued for some quality such as taste or nutritional content.

But...most heirloom varieties are now extinct. One survey determined that of all the vegetable varieties available in 1903, over 96% are now extinct mostly because they were not adapted for modern agricultural technique.

The story begins with the end of World War II. The USA had a huge surplus of nitrogen left over from bomb making and now that the war was over this surplus was used to make a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

Only a few varieties of crop plants could handle this much nitrogen in the new fertilizer making these few strains the seed choice of farmers.

Thank You

I highly recommend reading "The Wisdom of Plant Heritage: Organic Seed Production and Saving" written by Bryan Connolly for the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

This book explains everything you need to know about growing plants to save seeds and answered all of my questions about saving heirloom seeds.

And without the author's kind permission to touch upon important facts within his book, this entire topic would have been much more difficult and this section of the website probably would not exist.

Later, vegetables were further selected for color, a thick skin and large size. Unfortunately vitamin/mineral content and taste were never a part of the selection criteria.

The vegetables we now find in our grocery stores are the end result of much selective breeding.

Tomatoes, for instance, are all bright red, thick skinned and most are large.

They can be easily harvested by machine, packed into boxes and shipped all over the country with minimal bruising.

They are pretty to look at but contain less vitamin content and trace minerals than most existing heirloom tomatoes.

Many farmers and gardeners now focus on saving heirloom plants to maintain the genetic diversity in vegetables and keep these old strains alive.

Producing and saving heirloom seeds is becoming more and more lucrative.

So how can this be done?

Simply put you need to obtain heirloom seeds, germinate, plant and harvest. Knowing basic genetics helps as well as specifics about each of your plant varieties; are they open pollinators, self pollinators, are they adaptable to your climate? Do you wish to grow for seed production, sell vegetables or both?

Here is a quick guide on how to grow heirloom plants. Another way to approach seed production is to reclaim hybrids by selectively breeding hybrids for specific vegetable characteristics.

And once all your plants are grown...you need to harvest your crop, saving fruit and/or seeds.

Growing heirlooms can be a hobby that grows into a full time business. If this is something you wish to do full time, here are some guidelines for going commercial.

Keep in mind that hydroponics is specifically adapted to growing heirloom plants. Once the nutritional requirements of a specific plant variety is determined, hydroponic nutrient can be tailored for growing that specific variety.

But heirlooms do not need to be grown hydroponically, they do well in dirt gardens also. If you're interested in knowing more about traditional gardening, Garden Planting Tips offers great information that will help you plant a successful vegetable garden.

For another excellent gardening site, Flowers, Plants and Gardening Advice caters to the do-it-yourself-gardener. The webmaster, Julia, has tons of experience and great advice. Check it out...

Is your garden a source of despair? Enjoy Your Garden makes it easy to make the most of your garden for year round pleasure and enjoyment. Gardening tips, ideas and more...

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