If you’ve read anything on my website, you know I’m a huge believer in heirloom gardening. Just one of the many benefits of heirloom gardening is your ability to save the seed from year to year, saving you money and making you more self-sustainable. (Check out my podcast Intro to Heirloom Gardening to find out while you’ll love them as much as I do)
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Heard the term heirloom gardening and seeds? Wondering what exactly heirloom plants mean and why they’re beneficial for your food supply and garden?
- The 3 characteristics a plant must have to be considered heirloom
- History of heirloom seeds
- Basics of seed saving
- Where to get heirloom seed
- Major benefits of heirloom plants
- Best type of heirloom plants to begin seed saving
I look forward to sharing with you. Please email me at melissa(at)melissaknorris(dot)com with questions or comments. I’d love to have a readers show where I answer your questions. Or leave your question in the comments section below.
I’m so excited to announce the release of my new ebook Heirloom Gardening Guide-Plant to Save Money. Not only do I feel it’s a valuable resource for folks wanting to grow heirloom plants, become more self-sustainable, and preserve their own food, but it’s FREE!
My vegetable garden provides me with great enjoyment. I feel immense satisfaction from planting a seed, watching it grow, and produce. I wonder if God feels that way about us?
I also like knowing my family is eating healthy food, untouched by chemicals, and who knows what else on its way to the store. Plus, I get to harvest my food at its peak for best taste and freshness.
Right now is the perfect time to order your seeds if you don’t already seed save. Heirloom seeds are seeds left as God made them, untouched by the hand of science. This means you can save the seed from the plant and it will grow the following year. Money in your pocket and independence from the stores.
When going through seed catalogs you may run across the term open-pollination. Open-pollinated, also known as heirloom or standard, are plant varieties that have stable traits from one generation to the next. Plants that open-pollinate will be pollinated from other plants within a mile radius via the wind and insects.
So, if you don’t want your plant to pollinate with the neighbors, then you might have a problem. But, you can always cull the plants that start to drift from the “original” or you might end up liking the cross better. And you will still be able to save the seed, as hybrids don’t cross-pollinate and are sterile.
Beans, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes are self-pollinating so you don’t have to worry about these.
I’ve always used heirloom tarheel green beans, but this year, I’m going all heirloom. If you haven’t entered, I’m giving away a packet of my seed to get you started here.
I’m ordering my heirloom seeds from Territorial and Abundant Life Seeds. They are both based in Oregon, which has a similar growing season to the Washington coast. Burpee seeds also have a great catalog, just be sure to read the description to see if it’s a hybrid or heirloom. (I don’t get an endorsement from these companies, but if any reps are reading, I wouldn’t mind a free packet of seed)
Many times, you can find small local farms that sell heirloom starts that are acclimated for your area.
Do you have any tips for heirloom gardening or seed saving? What’s your favorite vegetable, the one you can’t wait for it to ripen and bite into, juices dripping down your chin?
My husband’s is corn on the cob, but I love a good fresh tomato.
This is featured on The Prairie Homesteader Blog Hop. Click on over for lots of other great pioneering posts.
To celebrate the arrival of spring, I’m going to share my favorite vegetable with you. My grandparents moved from North Carolina to Washington state in 1937. They traveled with two other families on the back of flat-bed truck they converted to a camper with bunks.
Can you imagine the cramped quarters? Packing space was limited to say the least. But my grandparents brought with them a packet of their pole green beans and a cast iron skillet. We’ve always referred to them as tarheel green beans.
When my husband and I were dating, he came to meet my parents for the first time. He told me he didn’t care for green beans, so when my mom passed the pot of green beans, I was surprised he took a serving. After eating his beans, he helped himself to more. I leaned over and whispered, “You don’t have to eat more.” I thought he just wanted to impress my parents.
He replied, “These are the best beans I’ve ever eaten. I don’t like other green beans, but I love these.”
We’ve grown them every year since we’ve been married. Going on thirteen years now.
Tarheel pole beans grace many a garden in our valley. These beans can’t be bought in a store, either the seeds or the harvest. Originating from the Appalachian Mountain range, they have a small white bean inside the pod and are lumpy. The taste is phenomenal, sweet and buttery. Add a little fat back, chunk of bacon, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better dish.
They are a heritage bean, meaning they haven’t been altered by science. Each family or hollow would have their own unique bean and would trade with other families for different varieties. These beans must be staked or you can plant them on a fence, but they need something to climb. In fact, prized beans were considered part of a girl’s dowry!
Tarheel beans produce a lot per plant. They do require stringing, but the flavor is worth the extra work. I like to let some of the beans mature. I mix the shelled small white bean in with the fresh snapped green pods. They are excellent fresh, canned, or in true Tarheel fashioned, leather britches style. Beans are strung on a string and left to dry. You then soak them when ready to eat and cook as usual.
I leave one bush unpicked. Let the beans hang on the vine until they have turned almost white and have started to shrivel. Then shell the beans, allow them to dry, and store in a cool dry place for next years seed. We tried putting some in the freezer this year and they came up fine, but my dad leaves them in a five gallon bucket in their laundry room with no problems.
So, here’s where it get’s good. One lucky winner will receive a packet of my seeds. Here are the rules for entering. Winner will be announced here on Tuesday April 17, 2012. Good luck! Remember, you need to sign up via email in addition to leaving a comment. Thanks!
1. Leave a comment with your email address below.
2. Sign up via email to receive new blog posts. Just click on the sign me up button on the right hand side of the page.
3. Tweet or share this link of Facebook.
You know mine, what’s your favorite family heirloom? It can be an item, memory, or tradition.
To read more about legacy’s we leave, here’s my post on leaving a spiritual legacy for your children.
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