During such turbulent times, it pays to have some food self sufficiency. That alone should be one of the top reasons to store heirloom seeds. Well, there is definitely more than one reason to store heirloom seeds. These reasons are what I term important for any time in addition to the current global situation.
WHAT ARE HEIRLOOM SEEDS ?
The art of storing vegetables, roots, and heirloom seeds has kept our ancestors and whole communities fed and nourished for centuries. Therefore, proper seed and vegetable storage is vital to keep the quality and the breed intact for next years planting and for the future generations.
Heirloom seeds are the seeds of purebred plants, uncrossed or uncontaminated by other seed varieties.
SOME OF THE TOP REASONS TO STORE HEIRLOOM SEEDS
Here are my top reasons to store heirloom seeds and why everyone who is serious of growing food should be storing heirloom seeds.
1. To Save Money
For the simple reason of saving money, it is worthwhile to save your seeds. Expenditure for seeds, seedlings etc. can run easily into a few hundreds if you are looking for good quality heirloom and organic seeds. We have invested a lot so far in many of the seeds in the past few years. But for the last couple of years we have been planting as much as possible our heirlooms to save money.
2. Heirloom Plants are acclimatized to your soil
When you save seeds from your best plants each year you’re gradually making improvements. Future seeds will be more adapted to grow in your particular climatic and soil conditions.
The heirloom plants usually thrive better in your soil than in a foreign soil. This is my experience and I heard this from a couple of gardening friends of mine. Therefore, if you want best results it pays off to store your heirloom seeds.
In fact, this year we planted 90% of our plants from our heirlooms. Despite the cold summer, we had good results from most of them.
3. Store Heirloom Seeds for Emergencies
The year 2020 has been turbulent in many aspects.
One of our aims for such situations, is to have some kind of food security by growing our own food as much as is possible in our small garden.
My foreknowledge is that, I was well aware of the severe economic collapse which was bubbling up since the last few years. So I was kind of prepared well in advance for the spring planting. This was possible due to our seed collection over the past few years.
Another reason to consider is the inflation, which will be very high in the future for basic necessities like food and other stuff. In fact food prices have been steadily rising since sometime even before the shutdowns.
In the future, good quality seeds may also be scarce due to inflated prices or even be unavailable. Many gardeners are aware of being unable to get the much needed seeds during this year’s planting season due to the crazy measures which were imposed.
Our heirloom seeds saved us in the 2020 planting season.
4. To Start your own Heirloom seed Bank
Starting your heirloom seed bank could be like an insurance policy. A seed bank is a way to store native and heirloom seeds to preserve for later use. Or even in case of extinction and other unforeseen circumstances.
There are many plant species which are going extinct every year due to pests, disease, bad soil among other factors. Above all, many of the varieties we eat has declined massively since a few generations.
In the recent years, we have seen a big revival of rare seeds by a trust called –pro specie rara in Switzerland.
We love to cultivate a lot of these rare varieties and have steadily been saving and building up our collection of these seeds after each harvest.
5. Store Heirloom seeds for Self reliance
In the world of globalization, we have become increasingly reliant on food imports. With the current situation, it is becoming apparent, that such a vital thing like food production shouldn’t be outsourced to far away lands.
So saving seeds to grow your own food will mean you will be independent to some extent from the external factors for food security. In addition to feeding your family, you can also feed others locally if you are a big cultivator.
6. Learn about nature and crops
Gardening takes time and patience. Every year we are learning new stuff. Not all the seeds can be planted every year. We are learning about crop rotation, caring for different plants, and what can be planted next to which plant, the time frame etc.
This also means, we cannot also plant all the seeds we have at any given time. So saving your heirlooms means you can easily rotate the crops and plants.
For example, we have learnt that we cannot plant the potatoes in the same patch every year.
7. Heirloom seeds helps open pollinators.
Many gardeners prefer heirloom vegetables because they are open-pollinated, which means you can save your own seeds to replant year to year. Seeds you save from your heirloom vegetables will produce plants, the same ones as was centuries ago. You will not get good results from hybrids.
When you have a big variety of seeds planted, it means that more plants in your garden are flowering.
Most seeds are easy to collect. I will go into it in a future post on how to collect and store your heirloom seeds.
8. Store heirloom seeds for Nutritious produce
Despite the push for higher yields and sturdy varieties in commercial produce, there has been a push back from smaller home gardeners for natural yields. I prefer good quality and more nutritious vegetables than perfect looking ones devoid of nutrition found in commercial produce. Don’t forget that TLC we put in and that adds to the taste.
Recent research has revealed that in many cases, newer vegetables and grains are significantly less nutritious than heirlooms.
9. Exceptional taste from heirloom seeds
Modern hybrid methods of cultivating produce has negatively impacted the taste and nutrition. Most fruits and vegetables are picked unripe and then ripened artificially. There is not much taste.
The best would be to grow your own and pick at the right time when it is ripe in the plant.
Heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries and these seeds were not saved for shipping. Since home gardeners produce for own consumption, we don’t need tough vegetables. I rather prefer sweet, juicy and just tasty vegetables. This alone should be one of the top reasons to store heirloom seeds.
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