What makes a seed heirloom?

A heirloom variety of vegetables, fruits, or flowers should be pollinated or pollinated by insects, birds, wind, or other natural means and “truly breed” or preserve its original traits from one generation to the next.

Heirloom seeds

come from open-pollinated plants that transmit similar characteristics and traits from the parent plant to the daughter plant. There is no specific definition that every gardener uses to define heirloom plants. Some people claim that heirloom plants are those that were introduced before 1951, while others claim that heirloom varieties are those that were introduced before the 1920s.

In general, you should consider that relics are seeds that can grow back and pass from one generation to the next. Heirloom seeds are transmitted from generation to generation through open pollination. This means that the changes that have occurred in the development of heirloom plants are characteristics that have occurred naturally over time. To be considered a relic variety, the plant species must be at least 40 years old in development.

Through years and years of cultivation, traditional plant varieties develop resistance to certain diseases and pests and learn to thrive in particular climates. The definition of “heirloom seeds” is a matter of debate. For our purposes, West Coast Seeds considers a plant to be a relic if it has been in cultivation for 50 years or more, although some people insist that 100 years is the magic number. Whatever the correct cultivation period is, it is worth noting that modern industrial agriculture really began in 1945, after World War II.

That's when farms in North America and Europe began to grow more monocultures, a type of crop that grew on huge tracts of land. So, in a way, heirloom seeds can be considered “pre-war varieties”. There is no difference between inherited and inherited seeds or plants, the terms are used interchangeably. That means gardeners who plant heirloom seeds receive a steady supply of ripe fruits and vegetables instead of having a huge harvest that gives them more than they can eat at a time.

In addition to heirloom and organic seeds, hybrid and open-pollinated seed varieties are also available. Here's a look at what exactly heirloom seeds are and five reasons they deserve a place in your garden. So if there is a variety that has been cultivated for hundreds of years, even if it is not labeled “heirloom”, it is still a heirloom seed. If the seeds are too small to allow them to mature on a screen, you can place the seed heads in a paper bag to finish drying them.

They don't mean the same thing, since an open-pollinated seed is simply a variety where the seed can be harvested from the plant, saved, replanted and the same variety will grow back year after year. So if you want to grow that strain at another time, you'll need to buy new seeds instead of growing the seeds you saved from that plant. Some organic seeds are not treated and some organic seeds are treated with substances approved by the USDA National List of Permitted and Prohibited Substances for Organic Farming. Most of the time, heirloom seeds have been grown under organic conditions, although this is not always the case.

Open-pollinated seeds are plant seeds that, if self-pollinated or pollinated by the same variety, will produce the exact same variety again. The heirloom label does not guarantee that the plants are organic or that no chemicals have been used in the cultivation process, but it is likely that the heirloom seeds, even without the organic label, are chemical-free. Most, if not all, hybrid plants, if they do not have sterile seeds and can be re-cultivated, will not be the same as the original hybrid plant, ensuring dependency on seed distributors for future crops. For the classic Beefsteak strain, you can find seeds at several online vendors, such as Baker Creek, Victory Seeds and Tomatofest.

Organic farmers can use non-organic seeds if there are no organic seed varieties available to buy in their region. Before buying seeds to grow in your own garden, it's important to learn all about the different types of seeds you have available and what makes each of them unique. . .

Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

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