Every day (that we actually have people walking into the Villager from the snow) someone will ask us where we keep our "Hierlooms" and I always give a different answer. Without labeling them as antiques or relics, we focus on providing only (and all) the toughest, hardiest and most productive plants, seeds and bulbs that will thrive in our harsh climate and poor soils. We do offer hundreds of cool heirloom plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and seeds)... we are avid, fun-loving gardeners and we relish anything unique but we also like improved, hardier, showier, and more vigorous new varieties as well.
An “heirloom variety”, or “heirloom vegetable” is a cultivar (cultivated variety or selection) that was historically popular (for reasons of color, flavor, scent, habit, etc.), but which is not commonly grown in modern industrial agriculture or horticulture. Many heirloom varieties are open pollenated, some are hybrids, and many have been propagated over the years through grafts and cuttings (think: "great aunt Mildred's Christmas cactus that she brought over from the old country in 1855"). Growing heirloom vegetables in gardens is a hugely popular trend of recent years (I love 'Brandywine' tomatoes but cannot grow them without a greenhouse). Many, many commercially grown varieties have excellent color, flavor, vigor and production but they are just not quite as old, fun or interesting as some of the heirlooms.
Another example: only a handful of varieties (of the thousands) of potato are commercially grown. All the others are considered “heirlooms”. Some old "fingerling" varieties are so widely produced now that they may no longer
actually qualify as heirlooms! (Eric's harvest 2009)
Posted on Mon, June 6, 2011
by Eric Larusson filed under