Sewing heirloom seeds and why it matters

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

What is an Heirloom tomato and why does it matter? Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties, that have been handed down through multiple generations of families. Heirlooms were bred naturally for taste. Modern hybrid varieties are bred for durability (think about apples bouncing on a truck as it crosses the USA), ripening pace, and color. (Ever bit into a beautiful red apple only to find it has no flavor whatsoever?)

“A lot of the breeding programs for modern hybrids have sacrificed taste and nutrition,” says George DeVault, executive director of Seed Savers Exchange, the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom and other rare seeds. “The standard Florida tomato is a good example. Instead of old-time juicy tangy tomatoes, it tastes like cardboard. It was bred to be picked green and gas-ripened because that’s what was needed for commercial growing and shipping.” (cited from IMG_7246

Hybrid tomatoes destined for supermarkets are harvested prematurely while still green and sprayed with ethylene, a gas that helps the fruit develop its red color. They are refrigerated for preservation until shipped, a process that further eliminates flavor. That’s why any farmer will tell you to never refrigerate your tomatoes.

It was important to me that we use only organic heirloom seeds in our garden this year. Not only are they superior is taste but they are superior in nutrition as well. (For more details, see Industrial Farming is Giving Us Less Nutritious Food.) Another benefit to Heirloom plants is that they are less uniform than Hybrids, meaning the fruit does not all ripen at the same time. This is an undesirable trait for commercial farming where harvesting happens all at once, but for the home gardener, it is exactly what you want.

IMG_8456The most exciting part of starting seedlings this year has to be the addition of a new three tier SunLite garden. Ordered from Gardeners and it came in about a week. The unit required assembly and had very poor directions, but the unit itself is well made. Once I got it together it looked great placed against the kitchen wall.

I also decided to invest in the Growease seed starting Kit. I justified this expense by knowing that the containers can be reused year after year and that the units are self watering!  The kids and I got to work mixing water into the germinating mix and packing it into the trays. They enjoyed labeling the wooden sticks with the variety of seeds that were being planted. We started with cool weather plants like kale, spinach, lettuce, etc. These seedlings can go into the garden much earlier that other more sensitive plants especially with the protection of hoops and a cover cloth. So now, our heirloom seeds are sprouting…next project…growing microgreens! IMG_8455

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. atkokosplace
    Mar 03, 2015 @ 22:09:46

    Home grown tomatoes are the best! 😀


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