Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Is An Heirloom

An heirloom plant is an open-pollinated cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier times but is no longer used in today’s large-scale agribusiness. Open-pollinated means that a particular plant can be grown from seed and will come back "true to type," with the next generation looking just like the present one. If you plant an heirloom tomato like a Brandywine, for example, then collect the seeds from the mature plant and process them properly, the plants from these seeds will grow and produce exactly like the Brandywine tomatoes they were taken from. You cannot do this with hybrid tomato varieties because they do not have the ability to reproduce themselves.

Plants are generally considered heirlooms when they can be traced back 100 to 150 years, although many old European, African and Asian plants go back much farther than these dates. Some Native American crops are believed to be pre-Columbian.

Why do people grow heirloom plants? There are many reasons why people grow heirlooms today. Some want to surround themselves with heirloom flowers that remind them of their mothers or grandmothers’ gardens.

Others are drawn to heirloom vegetables for their variety and flavor. They may want a tomato or a cantaloupe that tastes like those they remember as children. Modern large scale growers are more interested in producing vegetables that are uniform in size, ripen all at once, have the same color and shape, and can be transported to market without spoilage. Flavor is usually pretty low on their priority list. Some people grow heirloom plants because doing so gives them a sense of history and cultural heritage.


Ronda said...

Hey, I'm here and I'm still a follow'en ya'. If'en that's oky doky with you'uns.LOL.
Seriously, I will hang in there with you my dear. Hpe the transition goes well.
Love & Prayers,

Frugal Home Living said...

Thanks Peachy Keen! I am so glad you took time to visit me.