Heirloom Plants – What Are Heirloom Seeds and Plants?

heirloom tomatoes at farmers market

Heirloom plants have been a hot topic lately, most common is heirloom tomato plants, which come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes and looks.
What exactly makes Heirloom plants different than the plants grown today which could be considered “non-heirloom”?

Just like opinions the definition of “Heirloom plants” varies from individual.

There are some “purist” who would suggest that an Heirloom plant had to be in use before World War I, others hold out for World War II.

The one area most agree on is that Heirloom plants are not genetically modified (GMO) and are open pollinated.

What Makes Heirloom Plants Popular?

The real boundary and plus in the Heirloom world (especially in today’s green movement) is that the plant was developed and grown long before chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides were used like they have been over the past say 50 years.

The “Heirlooms” were tough, offer genetic diversity, survive in an array of climatic conditions and produce food or flowers without the assistance of large quantities of fertilizers and chemicals demanded of so many “new variety” of plants grown today.

Because of open pollination, the seeds saved from one year to the next produced “predictable results.”

Genetically modified plants are “engineered” with genetic material from inserted to produce desirable characteristics and reduce undesirable ones.

Corn and soybeans are big GMO crops currently. If you want to lean some interest things about GMO crops watch – Food, Inc.

Just because plants are “heirloom” does not mean it will do good in every climate or an Heirloom tomato plant will now be resistant to common fungus like fusarium wilt. Good cultural practices still play an important role.

Many times heirloom plants and seeds may be more expensive than today’s hybrids. However, the extra cost is easily offset with hopefully the reduction of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

Be Bold… try some heirloom plants in your mix this year.

Source: Weekend Gardener
Images: John Morgan

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