Heirloom seeds are all the rage among gardeners these days. Heirloom plants, for those who don’t already know, are older, non-hybrid plants. One advantage of heirloom plants are that they are bred for taste as opposed to modern hybrids which are bred for size, color, simultaneous maturity, and shelf-life. You see, if you are a gardener you want to plant tomato plants that produce tasty tomatoes that ripen throughout the growing season. This way you can have a continuing supply of fresh tomatoes and don’t get buried under a mountain of tomatoes that all ripen at once. If you are a commercial tomato producer you want tomatoes that all ripen at the same time so you can harvest a field all at once and be done with it. You also want tomatoes that are big and red so they look good in the grocery store; never mind that they are mealy and tasteless, that’s the consumer’s problem.
Another advantage of heirlooms over hybrids is that heirlooms produce seed that can be saved and replanted and this seed will reproduce true to type. With hybrids some of the seeds from a fruit may reproduce true to type, some of the seeds will produce plants like one or the other of the parent plants, and some of the seeds will be sterile. In other words, if you save hybrid seeds to replant, you have no idea what you will get.
So you can see why heirloom seeds are popular with gardeners with a survivalist mentality. Heirloom seeds are the only seeds that guarantee a continuing supply of viable seed over generations of planting.
Here’s the problem. A lot of seed companies are taking advantage of the heirloom seed craze to reap huge profits on some types of seed. Many of the seeds that companies have been selling for years are heirloom seeds, they just haven’t been labeled as such. So now these companies will take the same seed, put it in a package labeled “HEIRLOOM VARIETY”, and double the price. If you are not familiar with heirloom varieties, and you want to buy heirloom seeds, you may end up paying way more than you need to for your seed.