Benefits of Saving Heirloom Seeds
By Debbie Czarnopys-White, Master Gardener
Last fall, master gardeners presented a program at the Nashville Public Library on the reasons to save heirloom seeds. It’s time to revisit that idea as we hope to turn it into an on-going community project. We are approaching spring and the time to begin to consider what we’ll be planting in our gardens. It’s also time to consider getting seeds from different types of sources, either nurseries or catalogs that we may not have thought of before.
At our fall program, we shared ideas of growing different types of vegetables. These could include some from our own cultural heritage or some that we’d just really like to try to grow. It is important to keep these heirloom or heritage seeds distanced from the kind we may have been using for many years, the hybrids. Hybrid seeds are those with specific end results in mind, a particular vegetable or flower characteristic. Although hybrid seeds produce beautiful results, it is often accomplished at the price of some original part of the plant that we used to love very much. This can include scent, shape, taste, and so on. Heirloom plants are open pollinated and the plant grown is actually a truly reproduced child of the parent plant. The mixtures used to create hybrid plants are known by the producer. They are not reproducible by us, the growers, as we don’t know what plant was crossed by what other plant. So, the grower of hybrid seeded plants must repurchase the seeds or plants every year.
On the other hand, growers of heirloom seeds harvest their own seeds, preparing them to properly be dried and saved for replanting the following year. It’s a little more “hands-on” and the grower gets more invested in maintaining healthy plants so they can produce healthy seeds for future years. Of course, the first thought may be that this is a money-saver and that is true. The other thought is that you are doing what our ancestors did in saving the seed and using it for the future.
For More, Please Read The January 14 Edition Of The Nashville News.