Why switch to Heirloom?
Buying seeds these days can be kinda scary and overwhelming!when you go to buy seed, you easily see 3-5 varieties of each type of seed or more. All have a different cost and label. Hybrid, Organic, Heirloom. There are so many choices!
In the past we always just grabbed our favorites. Maybe a few tomatoes you remember you grandmother growing, and then just a few that caught our eye! However as we learn more about gardening and continue moving towards being self sufficient that has began to change!
We are moving into using all heirloom seeds! For us id say there are 3 or 4 main reasons. We like that they are old times proven varieties that have been around for ages. The majority of them have more nutritional value. You can save the seeds to use again the following year which really helps cut costs when you are growing a large garden or even just a wide variety. Lastley the plants aren't designed to grow uniform and perfect, which is kinda fun!
While I haven't found one in our area "Seed Swaps" are hugely popular in other parts of the US. People in surrounding communities get together and share or trade seeds that their families have been growing in that area for generations! What could be better? These varieties made the cut because they grow successfully in that area, yield well, and are prob so delicious that they are worth the work! As much as I love to garden ill be the first to admit that it is hard work! You don't want to spend months caring for a vegetable that just ok!
Let talk nutrition! I know I can be a little over the top! But I do believe the majority (and by that I mean %80 or more) of what we eat should be nourishing for our bodies! Im not going to turn down a soft pretzel and cheese but im not going to expect that to feed my body! Im eating that because hello.... its delicious! The big push for most seed developers and commercial growers, is high yields. Quantity not quality! Personally I think its crazy how overlooked this factor is!!!! While its probably a great topic for another day I do think its important to note that in a super short period of time, we are talking half a century, nutrition in not only grains but fruits and vegetables as well has plummeted. If you boil it down basically we have figured out that adding fertilizer boosts the yield of the plant (how much it produces). lets use raspberries as an example! commonly a phosphorous fertilizer is applied at a high level to double the yield you get, also adding to the amount of phosphorus in the berries. The downfall that no one is talking about is that the other 8 minerals found in raspberries decreases by as much as 55 percent.
Here are some shocking numbers..
> In wheat and barley, protein declined by 30 to 50 percent between the years 1938 and 1990.
> In a study of 45 corn varieties developed from 1920 to 2001, grown side by side, found that the protein, oil, and three amino acids have all declined in the newer varieties
>Six minerals have declined by 22 to 39 percent in 14 widely grown wheat varieties developed over the past 100 years
>Official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data shows that the calcium content of broccoli averaged 12.9 milligrams per gram of dry weight in 1950, but only 4.4 mg/g dry weight in 2003
(https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/nutritional-content-zmaz09jjzraw) <if you want to read the whole article
A huge pro to heirloom seeds is getting to use your seeds again the next year! no more buying seeds! You do need to do your research and insure you are drying an storig them correctly. When you have a big garden like us or even if your someone that just like to grow a large variety, the money you save is huge!!!
My personal favorite about heirloom seeds is the aren't altered to grow identical fruits or vegetables! I like the variety! I don't alway want a 1lb tomatoe. In addition to the variety another huge plus for us is not everything ripens at once! We are still able to collect plenty when we are ready to do canning! but there is constant a trickle of fresh produce ready to pick in our garden. When your cooking for just yourself or your family you don't necessarily need a bushel of tomatoes or cucumbers each week!
There are so many fun heirloom verieties! The Seed Savers Catalog is alway my favorite to flip through! Its like a Christmas catalog! So many fun varieties and colors! Some even have a story about where they came from! There are is so much more out there than the handful of things we see at the grocery store!