It’s amusing that Heirloom Vegetables are a current craze in home gardening, yet no one knows what heirloom vegetables are! One of the truest definitions is that an heirloom is a variety that has been selected, re-selected and handed down from one family member to another for many generations. Another definition places a date point on the variety. Some purists say a variety must be at least a hundred years old to be a true heirloom, while less strict experts state that an heirloom must have originated before 1951, the year that marked the widespread introduction of hybrid varieties to home gardeners.
Regardless of how old a variety must be to be considered an heirloom, virtually all gardeners agree that heirlooms must be open-pollinated (not hybrids), either as a re-selection of the same variety or a variety that was bred and stabilized over many generations using classic breeding practices. Of course, no genetically modified variety can be considered an heirloom.
With their overall popularity, it should come as no surprise that heirloom tomatoes are the most popular heirloom species. Many of our heirloom tomatoes first appeared in mail-order catalogs over a century ago. Some heirlooms like “Yellow Pear” have been publicized since the 1880s, while other heirlooms like “Cherokee Purple” disappeared for many years before being recently re-discovered. If you feel more comfortable with varieties with a proven history of reliability and dependability, be assured that heirlooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There are several – just for you!
If you’re trying heirloom tomatoes for the first time, don’t miss the “Brandywine” series. First grown in the 1870s by the Amish, long considered authorities on heirloom vegetables, Brandywine is still considered by many critics to be the best-flavored tomato available. Our strain of “Pink Brandywine” is the “Sudduth’s Strain,” which dates back to the Sudduth family at least as far as 1885. Try other colors in the series as well. We also offer a “Black Brandywine,” a “Red Brandywine” and a “Yellow Brandywine.”
While heirloom tomatoes are our most popular, virtually any vegetable we sell, from “A” to “Z,” contains at least one or two heirloom varieties. Our “Ping Tung Long” Aubergine hails from Taiwan; our “Black Beauty” Zucchini is just another of the numerous heirlooms we offer.