Field Report | March 4, 2011
Why Grow Heirloom Varieties?
More and more I am asked what is an heirloom or why do we grow primarily heirlooms. The answer is simple but it is not short. Many think heirloom is a variety such as Brandywine Tomato. It is not a name for a variety but rather a seed type. Heirlooms are varieties that are handed down generation to generation. They differ from a hybrid which is an offspring of two plants bred to make a new plant with new characteristics. Hybrid seed cannot be saved and sown again.
Growing heirlooms fits with our farm beliefs that growing organically begins with high quality organic seed. Much of what we grow is heirloom varieties. When we save the seed from these varieties we choose the seeds from the plants that are the best representation of that variety. In doing so, we are able to choose for color, disease resistance, crack resistance, and of course flavor! The plants adapt to their climate and conditions in which they are grown and remain a preserved treasure.
This year we are including some new varieties in our heirloom collection to try. Take a look -
- Dried Beans: Hutterite-an Austrian/Christian sect moved to North America in teh 1760's and bringing this bean as a staple food. Jacobs Cattle - similar to the southwestern Anasazi bean, should be wonderful for baking.
- Cylindra Beet - a 6" long beet with a fine grain
- Carrot - Red Core Chantenay - great carrot flavor and a long tapered side with blunt tip
- Cucumbers: Lemon - tender skin and succulent white flesh, rarely found in stores; Armenian - long cucumber that stays sweet even when large...botancially close to the honeydew melon. These are in addition to our regular slicers and picklers
- Leeks - King Richard!! Doesn't the name say it all...tall with a full shank.
- Melons: a few new varieties from Turkmenistan - saved from John's sister in law during their two year stay; Emerald Gem, Caribbean Gold, and Orange Glo
- Okra : Star of David
- Onions: Borettana Cippolini's- flat sweet onions; Rossa Di Milano -mid sized red onion with a top shape
- Peppers: Antohi Romanian - a long sweet pepper which is great for frying; Catriona - 3" blocky orange; again these are in addition to the other great peppers that we will be growing...expect habernero, variegated fish pepper, banana pepper, bell peppers, and even a red drying pepper. you'll enjoy a greater variety of sweet as well as hot peppers this year!
- Radishes: Misato Rose - green outside and white flesh interior; Watermelon - red interior; and White Icicle. And our regular radishes more often
- Squash: Cocozelle and large Waltham butternut, and Blue Ballet
We are in for another exciting summer of wonderful items!! Rmember this is just a quick sampling of all the delicious things to come!