The current farm-to-the-table practice has amassed incredible popularity, and for a good reason. It has taught us to eat and live better.
Part of this movement is heirloom gardening. For many years, families and new farmers have discovered the joys of planting heirloom seeds. However, they are not safe from myths that continue to misinform young farmers worldwide.
Below, we’ve debunked the top seven myths about heirloom seeds.
Myth #1: There can be no new heirloom seeds
Heirloom seeds have been around for many years. Perhaps this is the reason why many believe there can be no new heirloom seeds, only those that have been passed on from one generation to the next.
However, the belief that no new heirloom can be grown is untrue. You can take a modern heirloom and cross it with either another heirloom or a hybrid. From here, you can stabilize, save and replant the seeds to produce a new heirloom.
Myth #2: Heirloom seeds always taste better than hybrids
Another myth surrounding heirloom seeds is that they always produce tastier fruits and vegetables. However, this couldn’t be more false. Sure, many heirloom seeds tend to have better gustatory traits, but it’s not always the case.
There are plenty of factors that affect the overall taste of heirloom produce — from where they were grown to how long they spent in a refrigerated container during travel. For example, heirloom tomatoes tend to taste better when they ripen on the vines and don’t spend much time being transported. This locally grown produce are always going to be superior in taste, whether they are heirloom or hybrid.
Myth #3: Heirloom means organic
This has to be the most widely known myth about heirloom seeds. Many continue to believe that all heirloom seeds are organic. On the contrary, heirloom refers to the seed while the word “organic” refers to how it’s grown.
The fact is not all heirloom seeds that are being grown are free of hybridizing since many heirloom seeds, especially original seeds, don’t grow as efficiently. Moreover, not all heirloom seeds are free of pesticides. You’d be surprised to know that there are farmers who use chemicals and pesticides during the growing process.
Myth #4: Heirloom is a lot more natural than hybrid
In trying to make sense whether or not heirloom is more natural than a hybrid, it can be quite tricky. To say that heirloom is “natural” means allowing Mother Nature to take its course. However, plenty of heirloom farmers and gardeners manually select, cross and pollinate seeds from chosen produce. Already, they are altering the natural course of allowing these seeds to grow simply.
Beyond the natural process of pollination, heirloom seeds go through a tedious process of breeding, much like dog breeders opting for breeds that they know will be stronger and better.
Myth #5: Heirloom seeds produce ugly fruits and vegetables
Some consider heirloom seeds as those who produce ugly ducklings. However, tons of heirloom varieties produce colorful and striking fruits and vegetables. There are those that you can buy from heirloom farmers that you can never find in regular stores selling GMO’s and hybrids.
Along with its appearance, heirloom seeds often come with fanciful and funky names. Believe it or not, there’s such an heirloom tomato called “Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter.” Of course, heirloom names aren’t always that elaborate. There are simpler ones, which simply add to their charm.
Myth #6: Heirloom seeds withstand mold and poor soil better
Just like other seeds, heirloom seeds aren’t always the strongest and most enduring bunch. You’ll need to give them as much attention and care just as you would with your other produce. If anything, some of them are more delicate than others. Many of them go moldy if left uncared
As responsible heirloom gardeners, we must do our best to ensure the long life of our seeds. From saving and storing to replanting them, it’s always best to learn the healthiest practices to ensure good germination each time. Furthermore, thoroughly drying them before storage can make a huge difference in their lifespan.
Myth #7: Heirloom seeds are exclusive to families who have them
Those who want to start their heirloom garden often believe that it’s hard to find seeds. In fact, some think that those who can grow them are the ones who have seeds passed on by previous generations.
However, there are tons of heirloom suppliers throughout the world. Whichever fruit or vegetable you want to grow, all it takes is finding the right supplier or store selling them. Start by connecting with your fellow farmers. Many quality gardening stores would also have them. You can even find many online stores selling them.
It’s important to have clearer knowledge about heirloom gardening to ensure a better harvest. Moreover, this ensures you’re passing on the right information to your fellow gardeners and future generations.
We hope debunking these myths would better help you in your journey towards healthier and better farming.