As I gaze out my study window at the blowing snow, it seems hard to believe that planting season is rapidly approaching. Though so far spring seems to resemble winter, soon we’ll be putting in our gardens. Which means, if you haven’t yet ordered your seeds, you’d best get busy!
This year I’m trying more heirloom varieties in hopes of saving my own seed. Seed saving is an ancient tradition, but one that has been nearly abandoned since World War II and the advent of industrial agriculture. Luckily, there have been hardy souls saving seeds these past decades, and we can reap the benefits of their work by ordering heirloom seeds.
Why bother with growing heirlooms? I don’t want to knock all hybrids because hybridization has made tremendous advances in disease resistance, but hybrid varieties don’t produce true-type seeds. In other words, if you save seeds from a hybrid plant, you won’t get that same variety if you plant those seeds. For purposes of preserving plant varieties, heirlooms are very important since they produce true offspring. We lose many plant varieties every year, saving seeds helps combat that loss.
Also, for people interested in self-sufficiency, saving seeds reduces dependence on seed companies. Our food supply is dangerously integrated and industrialized to the point where many nations, not just the US, can no longer feed themselves. People don’t raise food anymore, corporations process it. Being more responsible for your own food, even just summer vegetables, is a good step toward food independence for people all over the globe.
So as your filling out your seed order, look for varieties marked “Heirloom” and some a try this year.