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.
- Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
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