Heirloom Seeds: Why they’re better and my favorites varieties

Seed Packet by, Jean Smith

Seed Packet
by, Jean Smith

The snow is covering the ground, yet we who are lovers of the dirt long to see the earth come alive once again. Spring is so near we can feel it in the warmth of the suns rays as it shines graciously down upon us.

Many home gardeners who dwell where cool climates currently reign are trying to get through the next couple months cheerfully!

Now is the time when gardeners yearn and long for the arrival of those beautiful seed catalogs! As they begin to appear in our mailboxes we gather them together, cozy up with a fuzzy blanket on our favorite chair,  a cup of java and notebook ready to start making our lists of ‘new’ varieties!

We flip the pages longing  for the life that spring and summer bring. We pine away for the first shoots of rhubarb, then all too soon the green stalks of asparagus spring forth.  Memories of summer…  prickly cucumbers, the scratchy leaves of that notorious zucchini plant and getting our hands stained green from picking those luscious Heirloom tomatoes… oh my!

Heirloom tomatoes,  by Jean Smith

Heirloom tomatoes,
by Jean Smith

We only use Heirloom varieties on my farm. Heirlooms in my opinion and I believe in most who grow them would testify to their overwhelmingly better flavor. If you ever eaten a grocery store tomato and then a fresh, home grown one, you know the difference.  What most consumers don’t realize is that those perfectly shaped tomatoes in the grocery store were picked rock hard GREEN, packed and put in the back of a semi and then gassed to ripen on ‘the road’.  That’s why they are flavorless!

Hybridization has been utilized for making veggies travel worthy. For example, Brandywine tomatoes have extremely thin skins, therefore making  them terrible ‘travelers’.  As a market grower, I don’t grow Brandywines for market because they’ll crack and split before I have a chance to sell them.  Uniformity in shape and size is also a must for grocery stores, not so for market.  I love putting several different sized and colored Heirloom tomatoes in a quart container- it’s simply beautiful.

Here are some of my personal favorite Heirloom varieties for home gardening:

Tomatoes:
Beefsteak: Pineapple, Brandywine- all colors, Paul Robeson, Dr. Whyche’s, Hillbilly
Roma’s: Super Italian Paste, Plum Lemon, Roman Candle, all the Icicles, Striped Roman
Salad types: Green and Red Zebra, Woodle Orange, Rose De Berne, Stupice, White Tomesol
Cherry & Grapes: Reisentraube, Violet Jasper, Blondkopchen, Red & White Current, Chocolate Cherry, Sungold, Yellow Pear

Heirloom Lettuce by, Jean Smith

Heirloom Lettuce
by, Jean Smith

Lettuces:Rein’s De Glace, Merriville de Four Seasons, Grandpa’s, Red Oak Leaf,  Jericho, Forellenschulus, Rubin’s Romaine, Butter Crunch,  Lolla Rossa,  May Queen, Paris Island Cos, Rouge D’Hiver
Spinach: Bloomsdale Longstanding, New Zealand, Merlo Nero
Chard:Rainbow, Fordhook, Golden
Beets:Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Chioggia, Golden Detroit, Crosby’s Egyptian, Cylindra, Bulls Blood
Beans: String: Blue Lake Bush, Contender Wax: Golden Wax Roma: *Roma, Dragon Tongue, Purple Podded Pole
Cabbage: Late Flat Dutch, Early Jersey Wakefield, Henderson’s Charleston Wakefield, Perfection Drumhead Savoy, Mammoth Red Rock

Purple and Green Beans,  by, Jean Smith

Purple and Green Beans,
by, Jean Smith

Broccoli:  Calabrese, Waltham 29, Green Sprouting

Cauliflower: Purple Of Sicily, Giant of Naples, Snowball Self Blanching

Peppers:Sweet:  Jimmy Nardello- my personal favorite- long, sweet frying pepper,  Red & Golden Marconi, Purple Beauty, Sweet Chocolate,  Hot: Early Jalapeno, Anaheim, Hungarian Hot Wax

Peas: Mammoth Melting Sugar, Sugar Snap, Lincoln

Carrots:Cosmic Purple, Lunar White, Amarillo, Atomic Red, Chantenay Red Core, Danvers Long
Cucumbers: Lemon, Marketmore 76, Boston Pickling
Eggplant: Rosa Bianca, Black Beauty, Purple Long, Thai Long
Winter Squash:Walthams Butternut, Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Delicata, Spaghetti, Green or Orange Buttercup
Summer Squash: Round De Nice, Fordhook Zucchini, Prolific Straightneck, Patty Pan, Starburst
Radishes: White Icicle, Purple Plum, French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, Black Spanish, Pink Beauty
DPP_0013Sweet Corn:  For most home gardeners,  it is hard to move away from the Hybrids because of the Super Sweet  genes that have been introduced in them… but if you want to try an  Heirloom, this is a very good one. Golden Bantam
Resources: Here are a few of my favorite seed catalogs to order from
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed http://www.rareseed.com
Johnny’s Selected Seeds  http://www.johnnyseeds.com
Seed Savers Exchange www.seedsaversexchange.com
Happy Day,
Jean
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2 thoughts on “Heirloom Seeds: Why they’re better and my favorites varieties

  1. Pingback: Heirloom Seeds: Why they’re better and my favorites varieties | For Dragonflies And Me

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