Gardeners are discovering that a number of traditional fruits and vegetables seem to be going out of existence. Over 75% of the varieties of seeds which were available nearly 100 years back are not available these days. This failure of cultural and genetic supplies has become a quiet revolution for saving seeds and heirloom gardening.
History of openly pollinated plants
In the past, most of the species in agriculture were open pollinated. Two plants that were identical genetically or similar in looks were pollinated simply through insects, animals or wind. As a result, the desired specimen of similar looking crossbreed was produced, the seeds of which used to be procured for use in the next season. Thus seeds were saved every year to allow the next generations to use them in the future.
Availability of seeds at present
In the last 50 years, that system has changed as the availability and distribution of these seeds is now controlled by multinational corporations and seed corporations, etc. The breeding of hybrid quality spices to produce sterile seeds has completely controlled the system, but the quality of the crop received from those seeds was not good.
Effect of seed breeding culture
Actually, some of the programs of breeding seed are known for growing food without nutritional value and flavor. The poor quality of the tomato crop is the right example of this seed breeding culture. In order to expend their shelf-life and to make their shipping easier, the rich and juicy flavor of the tomatoes has been sacrificed to leave fake and weak supermarket tomatoes with cardboard like flavor for us.
Evolution of seed saving organizations
Luckily, a lot of seed exchange networks and seed saving organizations were initiated in the 1970s to promote and save the resources of native American genetic plants as well as immigrant plants from all over the world. These seed-saving organizations also work as their suppliers. Most of these organizations claim to provide over 500 exclusive species of herbs, vegetables, grains, and fruits.
Importance of heirloom gardening
Heirloom gardening can be one of the most important elements of the movement of waged workers. These gardens are developed with a variety of almost 50 years old seeds pollinated openly regardless of their size, garden in the backyard plots or in the large organic farms. Most of these heritage gardens might have developed in the early period of colonial civilization.
Importance of traditional seeds
The historical or traditional elements of some of the heirloom herbs and vegetables found by some of the gardeners were very tempting. In the beginning, for some people, they look attractive due to their good taste. Heirloom gardeners have shifted to surprising and unique colors, textures and flavors of the old varieties of fruits and vegetables along with providing richly flavored and familiar vegetables. They also allow knowing about the history of many global species of rare breeds.
Variety of heirloom species available today
The heirloom kitchen garden at present may include the late variety of premium flat cabbage of 1840s introduced by the immigrants from Germany, the variety of lettuce grown in 1700s in the colonial gardens, mixed varieties of century-old potatoes from the highlands of Andean and improved variety of long orange carrot brought in 1620s by the Dutch breeders. Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Czech Black Peppers, and Howling Moon Corn are some of the hot, ornamental and flavorful plants found in today’s heirloom gardens. They may also have one of two trees of sporting Wine apples, ball tomatoes brought from German Black Forest region and Moon and stars watermelons that look like a big yellow colored moon with small stars on its oblong crust of dark green color. They may also have the variety of hollow Crown Parsnips grown in the 1800s that can be used to make wine or marmalade.
They can also plant Ashwagandha, yucca, wormwood, and decorative wheat along with heirloom culinary and medicinal herbs and old-fashioned decorative flowers like sunflowers for making arrangements of dried flowers in the additional space in their heirloom garden.
Use of Heirloom seeds to develop a garden
Just reading the names of Heirloom seeds in the catalogs can be enough to encourage you to order them and grow in your garden. Actually, most of the seed catalogs are like old literature containing information about the seeds found in the barn of a polish uncle to the garage in suburban New York. Some of them may describe a good range of historical dialogues like the seeds of a snap bean, the Scarlet Runner bean, grown in the pre-revolutionary period by the colonists and collected by American natives. These plants were grown for their beans with nutty flavor in and before the 1800s. Though it is grown by contemporary Americans for its exceptional decorative value, in Great Britain, it is grown as the most popular bean of green color.
Reason to grow openly pollinated seeds
Another important aspect of growing openly pollinated varieties is saving seed like banking genetic seeds. Every gardener is helping, regardless of its size, in keeping the source of genetic seeds workable by planting these heirloom gardens. Some of the gardeners have taken an advance step by cultivating certain plants with an aim to save their seeds and sharing them with others in exchange. However, basically, anyone who saves seeds to be used in years to come can be appreciated. For instance, if this year you have grown delicious and productive variety of yellow potato onions of modest size then you can produce 3-8 times onions every year from which you can use, share and save to use as seed in future.
Where to get heirloom seeds?
Certainly, you need not start an heirloom garden to get these seeds. You can get seeds of heirloom fruits, vegetables and decorative plants like roses of old fashion from local garden centers. According to some of the popular county organizations like Behnke Nursery and American Plant Food Company, they can provide minimum 40-60 varieties of heirloom seeds for sale. You can know about their availability from other garden centers also. You can easily take the first step to develop your heirloom garden by buying seedlings as it can be a good option for you to take the next step of starting a large and attractive world of saving heirloom seeds.