Choosing heirloom seeds
When starting your flower or vegetable garden from seed, consider incorporating some heirloom varieties into your plan. Your flowers won't look like everyone else's, and your vegetables will be unique in both appearance and flavor. It's really no more expensive to plant heirloom seeds than modern varieties, and it's fun to try something "new" in the garden, even when it's really something "old."
Just how old a cultivar has to be to be considered an “heirloom” depends on who you talk to. To some, a 50-year old seed is historic, and yet there are seeds growing now that are traced back several-hundred-years.
Diane Whealy is co-founder of an heirloom seed company, and says unlike furniture or jewelry that gets passed down through generations, you can’t dust the seeds and put them on a shelf. You have to keep them growing to preserve the memories and the history.
"The reason they were kept alive is because they were so good," Whealy says. "They were traditional varieties, a lot of times they would tie back to traditional cooking. Like the Italians used a lot of peppers, and in my family, you know, they used a lot of cabbage for sauerkraut, like the German background. So I think the seed helped them maintain their cultural traditions."
Click on the video below to learn about heirloom tomatoes:
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