Heirloom vegetable seeds

Save a Seed! Save the World!

Some folks grow heirlooms to preserve the varities of vegetables avialable to us, some folks are thinking about future generations. Others plant heirloom seed for historical interest, to be connected to the gardens of the previous generations and to the traditional organic gardening methods. Many simply want to taste different and delicious varieties of vegetables, or taste what modern large-scale agriculture has foresaken -- a lot of the breeding programs for modern hybrids have sacrificed the taste and nutrients, plants are bred to be picked green and gas-ripened because that’s what was needed for commercial growing and shipping.

Seeds saved from open pollinated vegetables will produce plants that are true to type, unlike hybrid seeds. If you try to save seed from hybrids, you usually won’t get good results


Saving your own seeds - It's fun!

Heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination. To keep your heirloom seeds pure, you should plant your vegetable garden with pollination needs in mind.

Vegetables that are self-pollinated:
Beans, peas, peanuts, lettuce, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are usually self-pollinating.

To maintain purity, plant with at least 10 feet between different varieties.

Vegetables that are cross pollinated (those for which wind or insects accomplish their pollination):
Onions, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins, swiss chard, turnips, radishes, spinach, melons, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, beets, broccoli, pumpkins, and squash.

If you plan to save your seeds, these vegetables need to be isolated or planted a substantial distance (100 meters or more) from other varieties of the same vegetable plant to avoid unwanted crossing.

Choose the healthiest, strongest, most productive and flavorful of your vegetable garden plants to save your seeds from. These thriving plants will produce healthier seeds, and you will ensure healthier future crops.

Allow the seeds to fully ripen before you harvest them. Even let them begin to dry out in the garden. Then bring your seeds inside for more extensive drying. Don't bring them in wet from rain or dew. Once dry, place dry seed in a tightly closed glass jar and store them in a dark, dry, cool spot. Then share them with your friends!

By saving the seeds of heirloom vegetables you can choose what works best in your garden. If you save seeds over several years, you can gradually select seeds from the plants that perform best in your local soil and climate. This will give you a seed strain that is more resistant to local pests and diseases. Plants are much more adaptable than most of us realize.

Are our seeds heirloom or heritage or...?

Through incidents and observations we've been renaming some of our heirlooms more appropriate names. Many of the names these seeds have been traditionally marketed under no longer relate to modern folks. The Bull's Blood Beet for instance, most people don't know what colour bull's blood is and we don't encourage them to find out. Or back in the 1880s the Ferris Wheel Tomato use to speak to people as being wondrously large and exciting -- and now implies that this tomato is some creepy carnival token. For historical purposes we keep track and share what the seed was traditionally marketed as -- and share the inspiring folk stories of who first grew them or where they come from. In many cases, these heirloom vegetables have been grown for many generations all around the world. These little magical seeds connect us to so many gardens from other centuries! Heriloom gardening is time travel.

All heirloom varieties are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated varieties can be considered heirlooms. Generally heirloom means a variety that is at least half a decade old that has been preserved and kept true in a particular region.

Heritage Squash Seeds


Why choose heirloom seeds?

Like most heirlooms, these have never quite been at home in the 21st century. Radishes that would run off at the sound of a rototiller were regarded as pests. Carrots that broke out in a coughing fit with the tractor exhaust made the farmers feel self-conscious and were conveniently forgotten.

Our emerging global economy demanded standardized products: the easiest, the cheapest, the most consistent, common and uniform. Hybridized vegetable were developed to ship well, be showy, and spend a week withering on supermarket shelves. Food was commodifies, and the actual growing of it became just one of many mechanical steps in its production. That production also included laboratories, indentured labours, large importers, packaging, irradiation & fumigation facilities, cold storage, and trucking terrifyingly far distances.

Even heirloom seeds whose effectiveness had been proven by countless generations were forgotten, the old became an obscurity. In their own gardens, people were persuaded to avoid open-pollinated varieties and buy hybridized instead -- because if they could collect their own seeds there there would be nothing to sell.

But luckily, what the past leaves will last. These seeds are ready to be set loose again! People are again interested in the food they eat. Many good insights have been largely urging people to straighten themselves out, care for the earth, be aware, be decent, and be free.

Humans have always sought freedom and adventure. Seeds are no different. They wait, knowing one day opportunity will come within reach and then they'll sprout and grow. That is why you should buy these heirloom seeds and give them the heartiest welcome into your garden -- give them adventure! Give them freedom!

A seed is something in the process of becoming. See, you already have something in common with them. You will all get along just fine.

Harvesting Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

Sherry harvesting heirloom vegetable

Another way a seed can change the world

We live in an exciting time where a good number of people have moved beyond being simply disenchanted with what surrounds them and are actively seeking new ways of living. Often and interestingly, those new ways are to pick up again what we’ve dropped from the past.

Not very long ago, growing their own organic vegetables was what everyone did. Then after the first two world wars the tanks were turned into giant tractors, the stockpiles of nitrogen for bombs fuel were turned into fertilizer for the soil, nerve gas became petroleum pesticides -- and then we carried on continuing the war on the land. We temporarily forgot what our relationship is to the earth. We probably thought we’d know what was enough and when to ease off the earth. We probably thought we’d know what to do next. Now that this time has come (or at least we are so close to it), it seems nobody really knows what to do next -- so we’re thinking back to how they did it before, we’re amplifying our admiration for the past. When our imaginations are off looking for the future, our memories begin pulling at the past and the present comes pouring along.

Folks are remembering back to the way things use to be, back to a simpler time -- back before the constant woe -- back before all the far away foods stocked the grocery store shelves -- back before petroleum made the fertilizer in our food and petroleum made the linoleum in our homes -- back before their were bridges over every river and trucks on every road full of useless consumer products -- back before all of these plastics and problems and packaging.

I believe something good has begun. We seem now to be collectively unwilling to continue pretending as though there is nothing wrong going on. Everybody is just beginning to see. Everybody is looking for a step to take and a direction to take it in. We have to forgive the mainstream for not being authentic at times, some of the changes they are willing to make won’t really change anything at all -- like recycling instead of simply avoiding waste. Even when the steps are small or misguided (or seem to be a strange arrangement of common sense) we must acknowledge that they represent the will to do good. People have a tendency to either choose one way or the other, so let’s be appreciative that people are choosing to change. The more people that believe that change is needed, the less dire that change will be.

How do you get someone who sees differently (with ideas founded in the perspective that they are somehow different than the earth) to rethink in terms of being family with the earth? How do you help them feel, experience and then acknowledge?

How about giving them a package of open pollenated seeds!