When it comes to
buying real estate, there are those who search for state-of-the-art,
modern architecture and those who value the character and charm of
antique dwellings—Victorian-era homes whose cosmetic flaws are
overlooked by the appeal of their ancient design. There are pros and
cons to both, of course, but which style a buyer chooses completely
depends on which characteristics they find most crucial in the long
The same comparison
can be made in the agricultural realm. When it comes to growing
produce, hybrid seeds fall on one end of the spectrum, while heirloom
seeds make up their vintage counterpart. Even though arguments can be
made for the endorsement of both, heirloom seeds have increasingly
taken a backseat in popularity over the last century as efficiency,
abundance, and uniformity have become top priorities in commercial
Despite this shift
in planting trend, there are many reasons to consider growing
heirloom seeds or purchasing produce derived from them.
So what exactly are
heirlooms anyways? Passed along through multiple generations, these
old-time seeds are typically pre-World War II varieties that have
been preserved despite contemporary changes in growing methods.
Unlike hybrids, these seeds are open-pollinated, which means they are
pollinated naturally through birds, insects, wind, or humans. This
yields plants that not only have greater genetic diversity, but also
remain true to their specific type every year.
Whether you’re an
heirloom veteran or a potential first-time planter, there are several
reasons why these seeds are worth a place in your garden.
1. Taste: There’s
a reason why the tomatoes you bring home from the local supermarket
aren’t nearly as sweet or juicy as the ones your mom used to let
you pick from the garden. Because hybrid seeds are usually bred for
toughness and shipping durability, flavor is often compromised.
Since heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, the seeds can be saved and
reused from one year to the next. Hybrids must be purchased annually
as the seeds are unstable, which means they will either not germinate
at all or become stunted and sterile.
Similar to the sacrifice in flavor, studies have shown that hybrid
seeds result in less nutritious produce well. Instead, the primary
focus of hybrids is to yield large, abundant crops.
4. Cost: Everybody
wants to save money, and if you’re a gardener, one simple way to do
this is by using heirlooms in favor of hybrids. Not only are they
cheaper in the store, but since they can be reused, each year after
the initial purchase is essentially free!
5. History: Heirloom seeds have been shared and preserved through lines of ancestry, which ultimately imprints them with their own unique background and rich history. Knowing where your plants come from can make the entire growing and harvesting process a much more fulfilling experience as you leave your mark in the ongoing story of your seeds.
← Back to portfolio