We're all doing this as a hobby. There aren't many people living in the UK who depend on their veggie gardens to survive.
But it wasn't all that long ago that people grew the majority of their fruit & veg at home, or on an allotment. And they were doing it using seeds that had been passed down to them, or swapped with other growers.
As the era of convenience grew, more and more people started buying veg instead of growing it and many valuable old seed varieties were lost. In addition, the seed catalogues became filled with F1 seeds, that can't be saved for future years.
So why should you seek out heritage seed varieties to grow?
1. Preservation of Genetic Diversity: Heritage vegetable varieties often have unique traits and characteristics that have been passed down through generations. By growing and saving the seeds of these varieties, gardeners contribute to the preservation of genetic diversity in our food supply. This helps maintain a rich gene pool, ensuring a wider range of traits available for future plant breeding and adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
2. Cultural and Historical Significance: Heritage varieties have deep cultural and historical roots. They often carry stories and traditions associated with specific regions or communities. By growing these varieties and saving their seeds, gardeners become stewards of cultural heritage, preserving the connection to our agricultural past and the flavours of our ancestors. That's pretty powerful, I think.
3. Adaptability and Resilience: By keeping these heritage varieties alive, you are growing veggies that have typically adapted to specific local climates and growing conditions over time. By saving their seeds, gardeners can cultivate plants that are well-suited to their particular environment. These varieties have already demonstrated their resilience and ability to thrive in specific regions, making them more likely to succeed and produce reliable yields.
4. Better taste!: Who's ever had a dull, tasteless supermarket tomato? The diversity of heritage varieties offers a whole new world of flavour. And they're much more suitable for the small-scale grower, whose journey to the kitchen can be measured in steps, not air miles.
5. Environmental Sustainability: Heritage varieties are often well-adapted to local conditions, needing no artificial pesticides, fertilizers, or excessive water. By growing these varieties, gardeners can promote sustainable gardening practices, reduce their environmental impact, and support biodiversity in their gardens. Hurrah to all that!
6. Self-Sufficiency and Cost Savings: Growing heritage vegetables and saving their seeds empowers gardeners to become self-sufficient in their seed supply. Instead of relying solely on purchasing seeds each year, they can harvest and store seeds from their own plants, reducing the need for external seed sources. This can lead to long-term cost savings and greater independence for their veggie gardens.
In summary, growing heritage vegetable varieties and saving their seeds not only preserves genetic diversity and cultural heritage but also offers gardeners the opportunity to cultivate resilient plants, enjoy unique flavours, promote self-sufficiency, and contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to gardening. Who wouldn't want that? To be a small part of something bigger.