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 Post subject: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:28 pm 
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Venomous Head of Veganism
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Opinions seem to be all over the place, but what do you think? I picked up a lot of heirloom seeds that have mixed reviews and I really don't want them to fail! Should I chance it? Is it a chance? Should I do a mix of heirloom and old standbys? I mostly picked veggies that I know grows in my environment - tomatoes, peas, squash.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:28 pm 
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in general heirlooms are more susceptible to disease and can also be more resource intensive in some cases. It all in what they have been selectively breed for. Super Market tomatoes are bred for shelf-life, shippablity, and yield. Heirlooms often focus on taste. That said Ive grow a garden with heirlooms, if you arnt trying to make your money back as a farmer and grow the most for you land then heirlooms are probably a fine choice.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:39 pm 
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I would pick a mixture of standbys and heirlooms. So if you want to put up say salsa for the winter you won't be disappointed because your black leopard snowflake tomatoes (or whatever) don't produce enough for you to can. The beauty of heirlooms is that they all have their own strength and fell out of favor because they can be harder to grow or didn't have qualities that are conducive to marketing (one of my favorites is lemon cucumbers! hard to market because their thin skins don't lend to a long shelf live). So you may stumble upon some heirloom that thrives in your backyard that might not even work a neighborhood away due to specifics of your plot. The uniqueness of heirlooms are so rewarding I think it's worth the trail and error process, just go into it knowing that they may not produce well. Reading about various heirlooms on the internet takes a grain of salt because it's all personal anecdotes and conjecture.

Out of curiosity what heirlooms are looking at (or already started)? I need inspiration!


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:16 pm 
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i did a lot of heirlooms this year and most didn't turn out, which made me horribly depressed. if it's a Big Boy tomato, it's like "whatever" but when it's an heirloom that someone sent me, I feel like I let down the tomato tribe.

An heirloom I did have success with was the Blue Jade corn, which can be grown in containers. It was hardy, excellent, and cute too.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:26 pm 
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I found a red skinned eggplant I'm stoked to try.


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Here's my seeds:
Image

I ordered them from Baker Creek: http://rareseeds.com/

So a few different types of carrots, tomatoes, winter squash and a pepper.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:47 pm 
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Those seed packets are so old timey looking! Jealous!

My 2c is that it really varies. Some heirlooms will be harder, some will be the same, and some will be easier. I think you can often deduce that kind of thing from the descriptions too, it's never going to say 'it's hard to grow!', but it might say 'superb flavor' and nothing else, where as another packet might say 'superb flavor and very hardy' or 'prolific' or something like that. So if you are worried, you could try just choosing the packs that mention something about the growing ability.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:54 pm 
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rareseeds also has the eggplant i want to grow!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:37 am 
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Mars wrote:
Those seed packets are so old timey looking! Jealous!

My 2c is that it really varies. Some heirlooms will be harder, some will be the same, and some will be easier. I think you can often deduce that kind of thing from the descriptions too, it's never going to say 'it's hard to grow!', but it might say 'superb flavor' and nothing else, where as another packet might say 'superb flavor and very hardy' or 'prolific' or something like that. So if you are worried, you could try just choosing the packs that mention something about the growing ability.

Hmm, this one says "Tastes like crepe!" "Stay away!"

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:37 am 
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fupapack wrote:
rareseeds also has the eggplant i want to grow!!!

The owners are vegan!

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:41 am 
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IsaChandra wrote:
Hmm, this one says "Tastes like crepe!" "Stay away!"

Perfect, two negatives makes it a positive. But if it also says "Good for canning" then you're in trouble.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:17 am 
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i thought heirlooms were in general better performers that newer breeds. old time growers didn't have all the fancy sprays and fertilizers and stuff we had these days so the plants had to do well on their own. all the heirlooms i have grown have done really well and have been delicious too! many heirloom vegies either don't look as good as new breeds or travel really badly - especially true with tomatoes. i think these two things are their main "downfalls".


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:27 am 
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❀madam dahlia❀ wrote:
i thought heirlooms were in general better performers that newer breeds. old time growers didn't have all the fancy sprays and fertilizers and stuff we had these days so the plants had to do well on their own. all the heirlooms i have grown have done really well and have been delicious too! many heirloom vegies either don't look as good as new breeds or travel really badly - especially true with tomatoes. i think these two things are their main "downfalls".

It's really hard to apply a blanket statement to heirlooms because they are so many different varieties.


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:45 am 
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IsaChandra wrote:
fupapack wrote:
rareseeds also has the eggplant i want to grow!!!

The owners are vegan!

I thought they must be vegan since all the recipes in the seed catalog are vegan! There is a sweet eggplant dessert that I've been wanting to try.... I just have to grow the eggplants first.\

In my experience heirlooms were just as easy/hard to grow as anything else. I try to specifically get the types that will work in my area since it is a really tough place to grow anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:19 pm 
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❀madam dahlia❀ wrote:
i thought heirlooms were in general better performers that newer breeds. old time growers didn't have all the fancy sprays and fertilizers and stuff we had these days so the plants had to do well on their own. all the heirlooms i have grown have done really well and have been delicious too! many heirloom vegies either don't look as good as new breeds or travel really badly - especially true with tomatoes. i think these two things are their main "downfalls".


I think one of the bigger problems has been genetic decline...because some heirlooms had been grown less and less, there hasn't always been enough genetic diversity within the seed producing population, which can cause less vigor since they have gotten a bit inbred. If their seed producers don't have large enough plots to provide enough plants for them to choose the best from year after year, than there can be decline. In the book Gardening When It Counts, the author had previously been a seed company owner, and said that there are some heirloom companies that buy from small farmers, which is fine but they might not be assuring the genetic integrity of the product.

Also, tomatoes are self fertilizers so they are all swell and dandy with inbreeding, so heirloom nightshades are generally safer genetically.

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:05 am 
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we just bought a shiitake ton of seeds over the weekend. in my experience, growing heirlooms has never been a problem as long as i keep up with nutrients and soil health. when i was in jersey, the biggest threat to anything heirloom or otherwise was the deer. in providence, i don't have a deer problem. mostly just random dogs and cats getting into things and even that's not a huge deal.
last year, i planted late because i moved at the end of may and i still got a ton of stuff out of the garden AND i found out i could grow tomatillos. since i planted late, they never fully matured before the frost, but dammit they grew. and i had cute little tomatillos on all the vines. probably my favorite thing from last year.
i'm super psyched about this year. the only thing left for me to decide is whether i want to plant in my yard or get a plot at a community garden (which would take care of the cat/dog issues).
this doesn't help you...

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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:09 pm 
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In my experience, heirlooms aren't really any harder to grow than hybrids. I have ordered several different types of seeds from Baker Creek and they all did fine. I think I even got my Atomic Red carrots from them. The basil and tomato should be fine. The one thing about carrots, though, is that you need really deep, loose soil for them to grow well. Also, you might want to try sowing them with radish for better germination.
I've not had great luck with squash due to borers, but I'm going to try Seminole Squash this year because it has some resistance to borer damage.


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 Post subject: Re: Are heirlooms harder to grow?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:03 pm 
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I grew my garden from seeds from baker creek last year and this year am starting with them as well. I have had success with most of the kinds, but those carrots you have Isa, I grew as well last year, and they have just now matured into carrot size roots this spring, so be patient if that happens to some things. They aren't super huge and easy to grow all the time, but its better to preserve biodiversity anyway I think, and you will not be disappoint. Nearly all my seedlings sprouted, and its just maintenance after that. I have only grown gardens from heirloom seeds, since I've only been doing this three years now, so who knows. Its worth a try.


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