If you’re new to gardening and growing your own food, you may find yourself looking at seed packets and plants and being confronted with terms that you’re not very familiar with. One common term in gardening used to describe a type of seed or plant is ‘heirloom.’ But what are heirloom seeds? Is there a benefit to growing them over other types of seeds? Let’s break it down.
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What are heirloom seeds?
An heirloom is broadly defined as anything of value that has been passed on from person to person, generation to generation. Heirloom seeds don’t deviate from this definition. Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down, unchanged, for generations. These seeds are often cherished because they grow a superior plant with larger, better tasting fruit. The plants may also be hardier in specific regions or more adaptable to certain situations. Some of these seeds have even been passed down for hundreds of years.
What are advantages of heirloom seeds?
One of the many advantages of these seeds is the ability to save, store, and replant the seeds in future seasons. Some genetically modified plants do not produce seeds, which makes it impossible to propagate them in the future (though it may make the fruit better tasting or easier to consume). These seeds have been grown year after year for sometimes hundreds of years too, meaning that with these seeds, you know exactly what you’re going to get. They’re tested, tried and true.
Where to buy heirloom seeds
Heirloom seeds are readily available just about anywhere that you can buy seeds and plants, but we encourage purchasing from local nurseries and garden centers and not big-box chain stores. Buying local helps your local economy thrive and grow, which is really what gardening is all about, isn’t it?
Can you save them?
There are some types of genetically modified crops that do not produce seeds in their fruit, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for in your produce. With these seeds, however, they wouldn’t be heirloom if they didn’t produce seeds! Heirloom fruits and vegetables do produce seeds that you can save, store, and grow in future seasons quite readily. Honor these plants like you would a family heirloom and keep growing, storing their seeds, and passing them down generation to generation.
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