NHGardener
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Heirloom seeds or regular?

It's time to order seeds. I saw some ordering company recommendations on these threads. But I'm wondering whether to order heirloom seeds or regular for regular vegetable gardening. I like the thought of old fashioned heirloom, but I don't like the thought that they may be more susceptible to bugs. Any thoughts?

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applestar
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I don't like the thought that they may be more susceptible to bugs
I'm SO INTRIGUED that you said that. Of course the first thought that came to my mind is that the GMO idealization/propaganda is taking hold in the consumer concept of modern engineered crops. I'm talking about Bt corn, etc. :x

The fact is, it's not bugs that heirlooms might be more susceptible to, but diseases -- virus, bacteria, or fungal infection. But even that's not a given because heirlooms that have been grown in a same area for generations are usually selected for (or because of) their ability to survive, outgrow, or resistance to local diseases that other plants in the garden may have succumbed to. Any healthy plant is more resistant to pest infestation. So I prefer heirlooms that are locally adapted.

TZ -OH6
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The term "heirloom" on the package simply means "not a hybrid", and Burpee is even selling "heirloom hybrids" which are some of the hybrid that they have been selling for several decades. Many of the popular "heirlooms" were popular commercial varieties (not rareities from someone's neighbor's, grandma's, cousin's garden). Modern hybrids increased production over these older staples because of inbred disease resistance and/or some market specific trait such as increased shelf life, shipping ability, shape, color etc (but not better flavor).


You really need to know what diseases inhabit your garden before choosing disease resistant varieties because each variety is bred for only on or a few disease. Most of those are soil diseases and are not present in a virgin garden and not present in all parts of the country.

Also, they are not resistant to insects or the (in the case of tomatoes) the common leaf diseases.

Just grabbing some non-heirloom seeds off the shelf is like getting inoculations before you know where you are going. Malaria shots are useless if you are going to Norway.

You could call your county extension agent and ask what the common vegetable diseases are in your area, but again that doesn't mean your garden will get hit with them.

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jal_ut
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I guess most of the varieties I plant are "heirlooms", which as TZ says means "not a hybrid". Corn and tomatoes are the exception. I like the hybrid tomatoes because of disease resistance. I like the hybrid corn because of its sweetness. Many times hybrids are more vigorous and have higher yields. For me it doesn't matter what moniker you hang on a variety, if it grows good in my garden and tastes good, that fills my needs.
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jal_ut
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I was going to make comment on Bt corn, but don't want to hijack your thread. I will start a new thread.
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gixxerific
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My twist on this is I have been doing heirlooms since last year. Because the many years before I played out all the hybrids and wanted a change of variety.

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applestar
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Jal, you've often said you buy most of your seeds out of bulk bins at the farm supply store by weight (I'm trying to avoid giving the impression that these are grocery store bulk items here).. As you implied, does that mean they're OP and/or heirlooms adapted to your area? Or does the store owner buy them shipped in from far elsewhere in huge quantities?

NHGardener
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I found a link to an heirloom tomato seed company, tomatofest.com. It sounds from there that heirlooms are preferable. Now I'm leaning towards heirlooms. Only you have to spend a minimum of $15 and they only cover tomatoes. Do I spend $15 solely on tomato seeds? hmmm. They do seem to be the end-all for all things tomato tho.

TZ -OH6
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Tomatofest is overpriced, IMO. Also, I have bought many varieties from them and had many instances of mixed seed and mislabeled seed, and I won't get into their creative advertizing, so needless to say I don't go there any more. There are many other choices if you want heirloom seeds.


The Sample Seed Shop
Tatianas Tomatobase
Tomato Growers Supply
Victory seed
Sand Hill Preservation
Heirloom Seeds
Gleckler Seedsman
Mariseeds

and others

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soil
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i prefer to grow my own open pollinated hand selected varieties like applestar. not only do i get better tasting tomatoes because i selected them for taste, they yield better, resist disease and pests better, handle our hot summers better, grow in my soil better, the list goes on.
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NHGardener
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I suppose I could also try the local feed store that supplies my chicken stuff. I believe they also sell their own seedlings there. Might be proven ground for my particular climate. I'll have to talk to them about how heirloom/hybrid their stuff is.

Does anyone just buy local?

DeborahL
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I agree, James. I like to grow what does well and tastes good.
Last edited by DeborahL on Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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jal_ut
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Jal, you've often said you buy most of your seeds out of bulk bins at the farm supply store by weight (I'm trying to avoid giving the impression that these are grocery store bulk items here).. As you implied, does that mean they're OP and/or heirlooms adapted to your area? Or does the store owner buy them shipped in from far elsewhere in huge quantities?
The store is a local Mom and Pop garden store. They buy seeds in bulk and weigh you out whatever you want. The varieties he buys are much the same as offered by many mail order companies. Yes, the seeds are shipped in from elsewhere. Some are hybrids, some are not.

Since his family are also gardeners, they know what works well for our area, and you can pretty much depend on the varieties he sells to do well here. That plus the great price keeps me coming back.

Not sure where you got the implication to grocery store bulk items?????
Are you reading between the lines? :roll:
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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I might add, there are also two farm stores and a nursery that have some seed in bulk at a much better price than buying packets. Of course that is in this area, but I have to think this sort of thing may be available in lots of other areas, and it is worth looking around for.

Some hardware stores and super market stores also have nursery items and seed, but I nerver see as good of prices there, but still it may be cheaper than mail order where you have to pay shipping and handling. If you keep your eyes open sometines they have specials at end of season when the nursery items all go on sale.

Seed is getting quite expensive, and I have taken to growing some of my own seed. This works well for OP varieties and saves a little on the seed bill.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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No no. I knew you weren't getting them from the grocery store, but I was afraid that if I didn't emphasize and explain properly, some readers might get that impression.

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farmerlon
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TZ -OH6 wrote:.... There are many other choices if you want heirloom seeds. ...
I would also add Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange to that list.
I have had good experiences with both of those companies.

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soil
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No no. I knew you weren't getting them from the grocery store, but I was afraid that if I didn't emphasize and explain properly, some readers might get that impression.
i get seeds from the grocery store all the time, and the health food stores bulk bins. whats wrong with that?
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applestar
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OK. Seeds sold as SEEDS by reputable and reliable sources are often rigorously (?) tested to be free of diseases. Seeds sold as food are not concerned with plant diseases that won't affect humans or flavor.

I'm pretty sure jal emphasized this point once or twice, so I was respecting that.

I don't want to give the impression to new Gardeners that there are no risks when you use grocery store food seeds as your source. That said, I've said before that I personally have grown seeds from organic bulk bins as well as use seeds saved from dinner veggies/fruits and cut up pantry potatoes and grow slips from store-bought sweet potatoes. You want to be AWARE of, and accept that there might be some risk.

Also, let's note that some food seeds won't grow because of the way they're processed (heat, gas, irradiation, chemicals) or stored, and they are no guarantee of their age/when they were harvested (Packed for year/date). No GERMINATION rate tested or noted as with some seed packets.
Oh! And typically no variety name specified, though sometimes there are rare exceptions, usually with fresh produce.

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Ozark Lady
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90% of the time, I will pick an heirloom over a hybrid.

My reasoning is: Hybrids were intentionally crossed to give this flavor and that resistance. If I save seeds from them, I might be able to get an exact duplicate, or I might get taste, and no resistance, or resistance and no taste. If I am patient long enough, I can take that hybrid and develop a tomato that is to my liking, and survives my conditions, maybe, as long as the original hybrid had these qualities inbred.

Now with heirlooms, I may not get the taste that I want... taste is subjective, some like sweet, some like tart. Or I may not get the resistance that I need... but they have been bred for a very long time, and are stable. So, if I don't like the taste this year, it won't be any better next year... unless I purposely cross it with a tasty tomato. When I do that cross on purpose... I just created a hybrid, and now I have to stabilize it to have consistent results... or make the same cross every year!

I choose heirlooms for the stability of their seeds, and I will do the crossing myself, or not!
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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soil
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Oh! And typically no variety name specified, though sometimes there are rare exceptions, usually with fresh produce.
good points applestar. though i will say not all stores are the same. the local health food store has bulk bins that are way better than the grocery store. they have more varieties( rare heirlooms 30 kinds of beans alone)

all of the stuff the health food store orders is raw and organic, and non treated even the almonds which is hard to find( and ive got 40 of those sprouting yay! )

that being said these are words to listen to
You want to be AWARE of, and accept that there might be some risk.
So, if I don't like the taste this year, it won't be any better next year... unless I purposely cross it with a tasty tomato. When I do that cross on purpose... I just created a hybrid, and now I have to stabilize it to have consistent results... or make the same cross every year!

I choose heirlooms for the stability of their seeds, and I will do the crossing myself, or not!
that makes me :D great post[/quote]
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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jal_ut
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No no. I knew you weren't getting them from the grocery store, but I was afraid that if I didn't emphasize and explain properly, some readers might get that impression.
OK. Yes, I have said many times, "I will not put any part of a store bought potato in my garden, nor my compost heap." The risk of disease is very real if you do.

Dry seeds from the grocery store may be less likely than potatoes, to have diseases that would give you problems. Those seeds have not been checked for germination, nor diseases. Seeds intended to be sold for planting are checked for these things. The seed companies want you to be happy and be a return customer.

Those dry grocery store seeds will germinate and grow crops for you. You won't know the variety. Does that matter? The price is right. I planted some pinto beans from the grocery one time. They did very well. I don't usually plant anything from the grocery.

OK, you have heard some pros and cons, so you decide. Given enough time to experiment, we all arrive at a style of gardening that works for us. It is on going, always learning. I appreciate your tips and shared knowledge.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

kgall
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Plant a little of each...What could it hurt? (Unless you are seed saving perhaps)

My first year gardening I bought seedlings at a local family farm stand. They did OK. Last year I started everything on my own... What A Difference! I would never go back!

NHGardener
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Has anyone ordered seeds from Victoryseeds.com? They seem to have a nice philosophy re: heirlooms and open pollinated varieties (which is all they sell). Just wondering if there were any thoughts about them.

kgall
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I've never ordered from them. I order from Johnny's. It's close to home and the selection is beautiful!

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soil
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Those dry grocery store seeds will germinate and grow crops for you. You won't know the variety.
the seeds in bulk bins at my store are clearly labeled for variety and where they came from.
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