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How do I Grow an Heirloom Garden?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Growing an heirloom garden is, in many ways, much the same as growing any other type of fruit or vegetable garden. The major difference is the seeds that are chosen when starting the garden, as heirloom fruits and vegetables require heirloom seeds. These seeds can be somewhat more expensive than hybrid seeds of the same type, but the end result is well worth the extra investment as most heirloom fruits and vegetables have significantly better taste than hybrid versions. The heirloom garden should then be planned out and supported just like any other type of garden, with plants given the necessary amounts of sun and water for their type.

One of the major differences between an heirloom garden and any other type of fruit or vegetable garden is the types of seeds that are used. Heirloom fruits and vegetables are grown from heirloom seeds, many of which may come from an uninterrupted line of fruits or vegetables that are hundreds of years old. This is what makes heirloom produce unique and so flavorful — they come from plants that have been grown for hundreds of years because of their noteworthy taste. Hybrid fruits and vegetables, those typically found in commercial markets, are bred to be resistant to inclement weather, grow quickly, and travel well to a market or grocery store.

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This type of breeding all too often leaves taste aside, and this is why much commercially available produce lacks the strong flavors many people look for in fruits and vegetables. An heirloom garden begins with heirloom seeds that come from plants that have existed for hundreds of years. Hybrid seeds often come from breeding two plants together to produce a hybrid with desired qualities; the seeds from that hybrid, however, will typically revert back to the qualities of one of the original plants rather than the hybrid. Heirloom seeds used to make an heirloom garden are chosen from plants that continue to produce seeds with the traits of the original plant rather than hybridization.

Once heirloom seeds are chosen for an heirloom garden, the seeds can be planted much like any other seeds of that plant type. Care should be taken to mound seeds that grow well in such settings, and to provide a trellis, fence, or similar surface for vines to grow along for plants like certain types of beans and cucumbers. You should also be sure to plan your heirloom garden and plant it in such a way that sunlight is properly available for those plants that need it the most. Also, determine which plants require full sun rather than partial sun to grow successfully.

Your heirloom garden will also require proper watering. You may want to also try pre-sprouting your seeds before planting them. This can be done by placing the seeds in a moist paper towel in a plastic bag for a few days, often saving you a few weeks of soil germination.

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