For centuries, gardeners have collected the seeds of the best-tasting, best-performing vegetables in their gardens for future planting. Heirloom vegetables are varieties that have come from these seeds, passed down for many generations.
Many plants are bred for longer shelf-life and other modern needs. But heirlooms have usually been selected for flavor, tenderness, and visual appeal. For many gardeners, heirloom vegetables are a cherished link to the past. Others feel that the shrinking gene pools from increased hybridization can leave plants vulnerable to disease and pests, and want to preserve genetic diversity.
Heirloom varieties that have been cultivated for many years in a particular region or microclimate are well-suited to that area's soil and climate. And unlike hybrid varieties, the seeds of heirloom vegetables can be saved and planted next season.
- Better-Tasting Homegrown Tomatoes (PDF)
- Brevard County: Heirloom Vegetables (PDF)
- Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
- Growing Heirloom Tomato Varieties in Southwest Florida
- Heirloom Tomatoes: New Life for Old Varieties (PDF; newsletter page 3)
- Seed Production and Seed Sources of Organic Vegetables
Also on Gardening in a Minute
- A Collection of Collards--USDA Agricultural Research Service
- The Evangelists for Heirloom Vegetables--New York Times
- The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener's Assistant
- Heirloom Vegetable Varieties--North Carolina Cooperative Extension
- Heirloom Vegetables--Clemson (SC) Extension
- Learning About Growing Heirloom Varieties--National Agriculture Library, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
- Seed Savers Exchange: Passing on Our Gardening Heritage
- Southern Seed Legacy Project--University of Georgia