Heirloom Vegetables: What's The Big Deal?
Heirloom plants are those preserved by gardeners who collect and save seed in a particular region.
Heirlooms vs. Hybrids
For some gardeners, the case of heirlooms vs. hybrids presents an either/or question, but there are reasons to grow both types.
- For instance, in areas prone to nematode infestations, it’s wise to grow nematode-resistant hybrids.
- If you preserve the harvest, growing hybrids can ensure that sufficient fruits ripen at the same time to fuel the preservation process. For more information on preserving your harvest.
- For container gardeners, bush-style hybrids of cucumbers and squash are better suited to small-space growing than vining heirloom versions.
- Some heirlooms require a long season to ripen, and if you garden where growing seasons are short, you’ll never see a harvest.
- Some heirlooms lack disease resistance and quickly succumb to diseases before producing a reasonable yield. Innovative seed companies are offering grafted heirlooms, with an heirloom plant grown on a disease-resistant rootstock. These grafted plants provide improved yields for gardeners in disease-prone areas.
When it comes to heirloom vegetables, the best choice is to mix it up in your garden. Grow both heirlooms and hybrids, trying something new each year. You’ll find your favorites as you celebrate diversity.