Are Heirloom always Open-Pollinated?

Syntria(8a)January 6, 2014


I've been growing veggies for about ten years, and I finally am buying a house with a real backyard so I plan to start up at least 4 raised beds.

I really have had the desire to grow from seed as well as to save-seeds and I'm looking at some heirloom varity packs avaliable on various sites and I was wondering how will I know if the seeds are viable? Are some heirlooms hybrid plants or are they not? I'd really love to get a few seeds from someone--I want something meaningful in my garden. The seeds of someone's grandfather or family, and knowing how important it would be for me to save the seeds from that plant at the end of the season. I want to join a bit of history.

Thanks for any answers to my questions and any other information you guys can provide. :)

Before now I've mainly used hybrids, bought starter plants, though I did grow some cucumbers, cantaloupes, and tomatoes from seed last season. I'd like to grow my entire garden from seed this year.

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By definition, "heirlooms" are open pollinated. Probably the only definition of "heirlooms" that is not contested. A lot of the offerings on the market are recent developments, so read the threads on the tomato forum and look at reputable "heirloom" vendors if you want family "heirlooms".

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 10:31AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

An heirloom is always open pollinated, but not every open pollinated cultivar is an heirloom. Be careful of marketing ploys used by companies labeling anything and everything they can an "heirloom" and also watch out for some seeds that are not described as a heritage variety but actually are.

I think you will be pleased with seed that you purchase from any reputable seed company. I've planted many heirlooms over the years from various sources and haven't been disappointed.

There's a lot of really historical varieties out there still pretty widely available, if that is what your interested in. There is a company out in Arizona that specializes in American Indian heirlooms some strains of which I imagine could easily predate Columbus, I'd have to find the name of it though.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:29AM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

For the most extensive and exhaustive list of available true heirloom seeds of all sorts, the Seed Savers Exchange is the best. One can order from a pretty good selection in their commercial catalog even without joining, but members receive the Yearbook each spring. The 2013 edition listed 12,495 varieties offered by 693 members from all 50 U.S. states plus 12 countries. Cannot get more choice than that... :-) Lots more info at their website, linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Savers Exchange

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:43PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Seed Savers Exchange will give you lots of history about many of the seeds they sell. A must-read catalog. If you become a member you can buy seeds from other members and get even more history. I plan to do that next year.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 3:21PM
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Sandhill Preservation
Bakers Creek
Southern Exposure
Johnny's Selected Seed
High Mowing

You can find them on this webpage.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:08PM
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