Do you understand the difference between an heirloom and a hybrid?

There’s a lot of confusion about heirlooms vs hybrids vs GMO. Don’t worry we’re here to help! And we’ll share with you what some of our favorite heirlooms are!

We love to grow heirlooms at Oak Spring for their flavor, shapes, sizes and fun factor! Heirlooms aren’t as productive or disease resistant as hybrids but there are certain varieties that can’t be beat. Also, we are doing our part in seed sustainability for the future of food.

What is an Heirloom Plant?

Some define heirloom vegetables and fruits by the length of time in which the cultivar has been grown. An heirloom seed will grow true to its parent.

An heirloom is anything of value (though not necessarily economic) to a person, family or group passed down from one generation to other. Examples are furniture, China, silver or seeds. Heirlooms are considered worthy of passing down.

An heirloom seed, therefore, is seed from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another. They are carefully grown and saved. I’ve read seed must be grown, selected and saved for 40 years before it’s truly an heirloom.

Benefits of Heirlooms

Benefits of heirlooms are their time-proven attributes such as superior flavor, color, size, and production.

Some heirlooms, cultivated by Native Americans, can be traced back hundreds of years. Varieties of heirloom plants have often been passed down via whole groups of people who choose to save seeds from the best tasting and most productive plants.

Other benefits of heirlooms? Distinctive shapes and unique colors. They are fun to grow! Of course, one of the greatest benefits of heirlooms is in maintaining the diverse genetic base represented.

What is the Difference Between Hybrid and Heirloom?

Seeds from heirloom vegetables and fruits are open pollinated; so characteristics of each particular cultivar is passed on exactly from year to year. For example, the same size, growth habit, color and flavor will be passed from the parent plant of this year to the seedlings of next year.

A hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross pollinating two genetically different plants of the same species, such as two different tomatoes or two varieties of corn. The cross pollination is done by hand, and a seed that is saved will not grow true to either parent. Hybrids are typically bred for commercial use for higher yield, greater uniformity, more even ripening, improved color and disease resistance.

Heirlooms we love & grow:

  • King Richard Leeks
  • DeCicco broccoli (mini broccoli)
  • Salt and Pepper Cucumbers
  • Chiogga beets
  • Detroit Dark Red Beets
  • Dragon’s Tongue Beans
  • Cocozella zucchini
  • Bennings white patty pan squash
  • Striped German Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple tomatoes
  • Valencia Tomato
  • Yellow Brandywine Tomato
  • Black Cherry Tomato
  • Berkeley Tie Dye Tomato
  • Black Krim Tomato
  • Rosa Bianca eggplant
  • Padron hot peppers
  • Bloomsdale Spinach
  • Red Sails lettuce
  • Sugar baby Watermelon

You can purchase many of these veggie plants at one of our Spring Plant Sales, the Hereford Farm Market or at our Farm Store on Tuesdays 1-5pm. Check out our new on-line store for more info.

We’re here to help you get & grow good food!