Are heirloom seeds better than regular seeds?

In general terms, relics have superior taste, quality and strength compared to all other types of seeds. Most of the time, heirloom seeds have been grown under organic conditions, although this is not always the case. Heirloom seeds are a special type of open pollinated seed. These are plants that have remained the same for several decades.

The plants created by a seed of the heirloom variety are the same from generation to generation. Relics are varieties of seeds that are at least 50 years old, and you can save these seeds and plant them year after year. Relics are never hybrid or transgenic. Hybrids are crosses of relic varieties.

If you save hybrid seeds, you won't get what you expect. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. They are created in a laboratory where the basic genetic material of the seed is altered, usually to make them resistant to a herbicide. Relic breeders select the varieties that grow best in their environment.

Over the years, the strongest and healthiest plants are selected to produce seeds. This selection process causes the cultivar to change over time to better adapt to the local environment. Regardless of a person's specific interpretation, most authorities agree that relic seeds, by definition, should be open pollinated. They can also be open-pollinated varieties that were bred and stabilized using classic breeding practices.

While there are no genetically modified tomatoes available for commercial or domestic use, it is generally accepted that no genetically modified organism (GMO) can be considered heirloom seeds. Another important point of discussion is that without the continued growth of heirloom plants and the storage of heirloom seeds, seed companies and the government will control the entire distribution of seeds. Most, if not all, hybrid plants, if re-cultivated, will not be the same as the original hybrid plant, ensuring dependency on seed distributors for future crops. Heirloom seeds are easy to find and cost about the same as other seeds.

But these oldest and most proven strains open up a world of rich flavors, unique colors and other outstanding characteristics that make them the treasures they are. Some heirloom seeds even come in packages that are pretty enough to be considered art. Here's a look at what exactly heirloom seeds are and five reasons they deserve a place in your garden. By using traditional varieties, you'll be able to harvest your own seeds and use them season after season.

Sweet potato is a natural GMO and you can get seeds for it, which means you can have a GMO relic. In addition, there is another category of cultivars that could be classified as “commercial heirloom seeds”, cultivars that were introduced many generations ago and were of such merit that they have been saved, maintained and transmitted even if the seed company has closed the business or in some other way has stopped working line. Organic seeds are seeds that have undergone the rigorous organic certification process. I couldn't find tasteful studies comparing the relic to the hybrid, so I think the question of better taste for the relic remains up in the air.

Another way to define relic seeds is to use the definition of the word “relic” in its true sense. Hybrid seeds are created by crossing two selected varieties, which sometimes results in vigorous plants that outperform relics. As for relics, a few years ago, when the entire East Coast %26 Midwest had late blight from Bonny Plants, my Matt's Wild Cherry relic kept running until October, the same for a few other relics. But since many relics are amateur-produced, there's no guarantee that the seeds haven't been cross-pollinated with a different variety.

Later Generations Seed from open pollinated or heirloom plants can be saved and, when planted, will produce plants that are essentially identical to the parent plant. I thought now would be a good time to teach a lesson on the basic differences between hybrid and heir seeds. In addition, many old commercial releases have been family heirlooms that a seed company obtained and introduced. Creating a heirloom that fits your particular garden perfectly can take years of saving seeds and planting them.

Because relics are ancient, many of these seed varieties have interesting stories associated with them. . .

Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

Subtly charming beer nerd. Extreme internet specialist. Devoted travel junkie. Proud coffee maven. Friendly problem solver.