Have you ever been in a restaurant and they offer your heirloom tomatoes or heirloom potatoes and you wondered what the heck that even means ( but felt too silly to ask )

Well wonder no more ! From hear on in you will be the King or Queen of Heirloom

An heirloom plant is a cultivar that used to be commonly grown and eaten in human history but is no longer widely available due to today’s practices of commercial agriculture.

See the source image
Heirloom potatoes – photo courtesy of The Farmers Almanac

Commercial farmers grow monocultural crops, meaning one gardener grows only one variety of a plant. They also grow varieties that will ship easily and look appetizing – attention to flavor is not high on the list; this is why tomatoes bought at your local supermarket tend to be watery and have little flavor. There is nothing better than home grown tomatoes – we plant many on rooftops in Manhattan – just ask your Plant Specialists expert to weigh in on choices. My kids love the cherry tomatoes that just keep going and going and going all Summer long.

See the source image
Cherry tomatoes at the local farmers market. To me they are like Sunflowers – they scream Summer !

Growing heirloom plants in home gardens and on rooftop gardens is very popular today because heirloom vegetables are fun to grow, taste a heck of a lot better and should be pesticide free.

Koko Loko Rose – Floribunda – Moderately Fragrant

Koko Loko
Heirloom roses from www.heirloomroses.com are truly spectacular and the scent ……

There really is no strict definition of what an heirloom variety is. Some say they are direct descendants of plants that have been around before the 1950s when hybrid plants were first developed. Others go back to the 1920s and earlier. And just because a plant is old doesn’t mean that it is automatically an heirloom. Commercial varieties are often discounted (not always) and only regional cultivars passed down through the generations are considered true heirlooms. A hybrid plant ( this will be covered in the next week or two – so you can be an Uber expert ! ) is never considered an heirloom. Remember to keep plants that do not self-pollinate far apart from each other (not doable on a rooftop garden – or at least very difficult )

Why not try, go searching for some heirloom seeds and growing these historic plants in your garden next season? Go online and search for groups that trade seeds ( Etsy is a very good source for this )or get some heirloom seeds from family members or other people you know. Remember that heirlooms do best when kept in the same general location as where the plant was originally grown, but over time, whatever seeds you get may gradually adapt to your growing conditions. Have fun