Heirloom veggies?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by r.h. in okla., Dec 17, 2003.

  1. I'm wanting to start growing nothing but heirloom vegetables in my garden. Kind of wean away from all the hybrids I've been planting for years. Can some of you people tell me what is your favorite heirloom veggies are? What do you do different to make them a success? Also, do you save the seeds from the very first fruits or pods for next years garden or do you save from the last? I was thinking that the first fruits/pods would have the best genes that you would want to save for next years garden. Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. Browsercat

    Browsercat Well-Known Member

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    The only hybrids I think I'd grow would be sugar snap peas and corn. Can't beat sweet corn...that said, sounds like you need to look at seed saving information more than anything, because you're already an experienced grower. If you Google 'seed saving' you'll find lots of resources, from books to instructions on how to. You might need some screens to clean seeds on as well as other small supplies; you'll have to check some of the books on seed saving to find sources.
     

  3. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

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    Lets see fav varietys, Amish paste it grows well and produces alot of tomatos. Green zibra, great taste grows well looks cool. Moon and stars watermelon, stays about six pounds grows well looks neat. Red mexican dry bean, drought tolarant and produces well. Check your farmers markets for heirloom produce then take it home and save the seeds. On saving the seed pick what you want out of the plant, early maturing save first fruit. Larger fruit save the seeds from the largest ones.
     
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    With few exceptions, every vegetable that we plant is a hybrid, like it or not. Moon & Stars melon was mentioned. It's a stabilized variety from Dr. John Wysche barely 20 years ago. Green Zebra tomato is even younger and developed by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds. Amish Paste more than likely was a mutant sport or cross with Glory and has an obscure trail leading to either Wisconsin or Iowa. Those so-called "heirlooms" didn't fall out of the sky. Tomatoes were hybridized in Europe for 300 years before they appeared in what is now the US. It's taken another 200 years to get them to where they are now and it was all by hybridization. Remember, 95% of all tomato varieties are hybrids. The remaining 5% are mutant sports from the first 95%!

    Martin
     
  5. So with what martin has mentioned about tomatoes does that also include many of the other veggis that I already grow. Such as pickling or straight 8 cucumbers, straight or crooked neck yellow squash, clemson okra, roma tomatoes, bush beans such as kentucky wonder or blue lake, or the many greens I grow such as lettuce, spinach, mustard, radishes, and onions.

    Every year I buy a new set of seeds for my garden thinking just about everything is hybrid and the saved seeds will not do well for next years garden. Could I have already been saving some of the seeds from the list mentioned?
     
  6. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Actually, you just need to do some reading. There are many "open pollinated" veggies that we all grow. Those are what you can save seed from and expect that they will come back "true". (unless you are growing another kind to near and cross pollination happens) I grow almost everything in my gardens now, including flowers, from seeds that I have saved. "heirloom" is merely a classification that refers to older favorites.

    We have some tomatoes we have labeled "pig pen" tomatoes because their first appearance was a volunteers in the old pig pen after we had feed tomato waste to the pigs one year. They were a large and tasty tomato, so we have saved seed from it ever since.

    Although we love some of the newer sweet corns, we do put out every few years seed from the Golden Bantum we save to keep it fresh. Most beans are open pollinated, and easily saved for seed. Allow them to totally mature and start drying on the plant.

    I would suggest the book "Saving Seeds" by Marc Rogers as a comprehensive book on the subject which has very good directions on how to collect and save seeds from all sorts of things.

    Seed saving is a very good practice for a number of reasons. Firstly you can select the very best of the best from your garden and slowly develop what is specific to you own "microclimate". Secondly, it removes you from the mercy of the seed companies, whose numbers continue to diminish. Thirdly, it helps keep some of the less "commercially viable" varieties going. Added to that the economics of not having to buy seed and the fact it is just plain FUN, and it gives you a little hobby.

    I collect "beans" and have perhaps 30 different varieties now. They don't have to be planted out each year, as the seed...if stored properly, will keep for years.

    We have developed our own field corn line that works best for us. Every year we save the best of the best and now we have big ears on strong stocks placed at the best height for us to pick. (I am rambling......so just have fun)
     
  7. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    Diane, please keep rambling! I love to hear how you do things. How big is your garden? Is it all row? I really lean toward raised beds because space is always an issue with us.

    Has anyone had any experience with "Heirloom Seeds"? It's here in Oregon somewhere, and I try to get my seeds form near. Anyway, I live about 20 minutes from Territorial seed, but the prices are pretty high compared to Heirloom's. I want to save seeds for the first time this year, and hope to get some fun ones from the seed swap on this board. So everyone..sign up! :)
     
  8. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    r.h., the seeds of nearly all vegetables which you mentioned could indeed have been successfully saved. Kentucky Wonder beans were a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for me sometime in the 1970s. Since you did not mention the onion variety, the answer could be yes or no and need isolation from other onions by 150' or you may end up with only scallions rather than bulbs.

    Even seed from hybrid tomatoes may be saved but the first few years may find a mixture of fruit from the parents and all stops in between. If certain plants are close to the original F1, they are usually considered close to stabile after 5 generations. An example of what may result is an F2 experiment with Sungold in an effort to locate its parents. Seeds from a single fruit produced some vigorous vines with delightful red fruit which I considered better than the parent. But they also produced a small type plant with small and so-so yellow fruit. So, you never know what you'll get for the first year or so using F2 seeds.

    Oh yes, you mentioned Crookneck Yellow squash and Straight 8 cucumbers. No problem. Don't let anyone try to tell you that the two will cross. You will NOT end up with a squickle!

    Martin
     
  9. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Cara, Heirloom Seeds is in West Elizabeth, PA. Most of their stock is good although there were 3 wrong or crossed tomato varieties determined this year. I have their Pencil Pod yellow wax bean, White Willow Leaf lima, and Key Lime lettuce, all of which grew true to type.

    The major "heirloom" company in the PNW was Abundant Life which was in WN and a great repository of old varieties. The entire seed stock of many rare and obscure varieties, rare gardening literature, etc. went up in smoke on 4 August 2003. They hope to start over but are out of business for 2004.

    Martin
     
  10. Cara

    Cara Well-Known Member

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    Paquebot, I looked at the Abundant Life site last night and it talked about the fire...very sad.

    I guess I should've read the Heirloom site a little closer. :eek: The search I did was for the NW, so I assumed without looking for an address. I mostly am interested in OP not necessarily heirloom...but I do usually go for a better price if I can get it. Not cheapest, but just less if possible....I have 6 to feed so it is a consideration!:)
     
  11. Hammer

    Hammer Active Member

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    I did not see anyone mention Cherokee purple tomatoes. I think they are the best tasting tomatoe And I have tried 15 kinds of heirloom tomatoes. I am not sure if they do the same in all parts of the country but I would suggest trying them. Bloody Butcher was another that tasted good and did well for me. I also came across a heirloom paste tomatoe called Polish paste which are huge good tasting tomatoe. Before those, I grew Sausage for paste which taste good but small, about like a Roma, and a slow go to make gals. of paste.

    Most of the old timey seeds are far better in taste but, not all.

    I go to the gardenweb and trade seeds, in heirloom seeds. Much of the time you can get seeds there for just a SASE.
     
  12. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    r.h. see if you can find a copy of Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver. ISBN 0-8050-6089-8

    It describes different varieties, when they came on the market,how to save seed and carries an index of seed and plant sources. It approaches 200 pages.

    My copy was $25 in paperback.

    Yellow crookneck and yellow pear tomatoes could have been grown by Thomas Jefferson.
    This book is interesting if it is a bit expensive.

    The Edible Heirloom Garden by Rosalind CreasyISBN 962-593-294-1
    was $12.95 in paperback and has recipes as well as brief info on orign ad description.

    You might see if you can find these in your library.
    Ed
     
  13. Thanks everyone for your help. It maybe a few weeks before I can come up with any extra money to buy books. Christmas has me broke for a while. So I'll probably just dig around on the internet for more info. but you people have really opened my eyes about heirloom.
     
  14. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    RH:

    Saving seed is a special circumstance we will talk about, but first I will tell you that the only "heirloom" I care much for is the Brandywine tomato. That one I like, but I also like the new ones--better boy, early girl, porter, etc.

    When it comes to saving seed, you have to consider how many varieties of any one crop you plant. For example, if you plant zucchini, yellow crookneck and patty pan squash in the same garden you will not have any seed worth saving--they WILL cross and you will get some speckled, odd shaped squash not worth having. Same with tomatos, peppers, just about any plant that pollinates. You can save potatos--they are propagated vegetatively and are not going to cross. Don't expect to save seed from a straight 8 cucumber if you also grow a pickler. The new varieties of sweet corn or so much better than the old open pollinated kind that it is a waste of time to save seed.

    If all you want are open-pollinated varieties, and if you are willing to grow only one variety of each crop you can save seed very well, but you can't plant pinto and kentucky wonder beans close together and expect to have good seed.

    All that said, the seed companies go to great pains to bring you good seed, true to variety and high-producing. If money is an object, save seeds from crops where you grow only one variety. For the rest of them find a bulk dealer and buy your seeds by the dipperful for fifty cents per dipper. There are a couple of such places in Tulsa, at least two in Muskogee. I'm sure there are some in Claremore, too.
    Ox
     
  15. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Martin(paquebot)

    There's something wrong with the place you mentioned in Elizabeth,PA. It's about 3 miles from me and last year I called and asked if I could pick up an order. They refused. I found what road they were on but never actually drove there. I told them "We're practically neighbors!" he seemed kind of funny. I really don't think they grow anything there ... they might just be a front and order the seeds from somewhere else (I know most places don't grow ALL of their own seeds).

    Anyway, most of this is purely speculation but they just seemed funny to me.
     
  16. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Mike, that's some interesting information for me to file in my mind. Heirloom Seeds has never given a real address. It's always been PO Box 245, West Elizabeth, PA 15088. One even has to search to find it on their site. Also, nowhere does it say that they grow their own seed. I will repeat that there have been a few wrong or mixed seeds from them but since they are such a small piece of the garden pie, nobody makes a big deal of it. On a Tomato Forum "Wrong Variety" thread, there were 15 identified. Tomato Growers Supply had 11, Totally Tomatoes had 1, and Heirloom Seeds had 3. Any seed company's stock is only as good as their source. Perhaps there was a good reason why they didn't want you nosing around!

    http://www.heirloomseeds.com

    Martin
     
  17. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Oxankle.....have you actually tryed to save seed? I have been saving seed for thirty years and never had the problems you are speaking of. Sure, different types of cukes can't be grown right next to each other, same with squash. As far as beans, I have had them growing in rows right next to each other and had them come back true.
     
  18. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Beans can and will cross if given a chance. DDT reduced many of the small native pollinators to near extinction while the imported honeybee can't do anything with bean flowers. Native bees are now returning and they evolved with the beans in this hemisphere and know what to do with those blossoms.

    Minimum isolation for runner beans is 75' for home use, 1/8 mile for absolute purity. They will readily cross-pollinate with any other member of the phaseolus vulgaris family, which includes all of the regular bush and pole beans.

    For regular bush and pole beans, isolation of only 25' is recommended for home use, 100' to 150' for reasonably pure seed.

    Lima beans will not often cross with regular beans but are even more efficient than runner beans in crossing with other limas. The minimum isolation required is 125' for seed saving.

    Martin
     
  19. RANDEL

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

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    you can also take steps to ensure that you dont get cross-pollination. this is a bother but it works for plants that produce a lot of seed from a single flower, such as squash, melon, tomato, sunflower etc. a paper bag works pretty well.

    also to an extent you can ensure purity by staggering maturity times. two varieties can't cross if they're not in flower at the same time.

    i believe in seed saving and have done it for over ten years. you gotta be careful but it adds a new dimension to gardening and brings a satisfying closure to the organic-gardening-cycle.
     
  20. HoosierDeb

    HoosierDeb Well-Known Member

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    Baker's Creek Seed Company in Missouri has open pollinated seed. I beleive the email addy is www.rareseeds.com
    I was there the first year they were open. A neat place way back in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. They built the store out of rough sawn lumber in thestyle of an old storefront. That doesn't have anything to do with the quality of their products but I just thought it was a neat place. They have both an online and paper catalog.

    DebF