Hello, my name is Alex Sanders and I am the Site Supervisor for Grow Appalachia Garden Project at Project Worth Outreach in Menifee County, Kentucky. Today’s post is written by Dave Fryman. He is one of our new Grow Appalachia gardeners.
My name is Dave and my wife Sandy, and son, Ben are a part of Grow Appalachia Garden Project at Project Worth Outreach. This is our first year with Grow Appalachia. I would like to talk about the benefits of heirloom seeds and open pollinated seeds when ordering seeds for your new garden. Open pollinated seeds are seeds and plants that are true to their parent plant, year after year. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated seeds that are at least 50 years old or older of the seeds producing the same as the original parent plant. Before the 1900’s all seeds were heirloom seeds. Some of these can be traced back to seeds that came over with the pilgrims.
The benefits of using open pollinated seeds and heirloom seeds are that you can save the seeds year after year without having to buy new seeds every season. In contrast there are hybrid plants that are cross pollinated plants to produce a more resistant variety to its original. The problem with hybrid seeds are when you save them you do not get a seed that is true to the original plant. Most open pollinated plants today have started as a cross pollinated plant or hybrid. What they had to do is save the seeds and replant them the next season. Once mature they might have one or two plants out of ten that were true to their parent plant. They needed to do the same thing for at least 7 years until they will have a seed plant true to the original parent plant.
Back in 2010 my wife and I decided we wanted to grow gardens again by using only heirloom seeds and plants. Thus started our new life of self sustainability. I checked out the Internet to find the seeds we could start with. I came upon a site which we thought would meet or needs. Here is a link to one of his videos about heirloom seeds.
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(I am nor endorsing this site as Grow Appalachia will provide the seeds. I just want this to be an educational guide only.)
We ordered seeds from this company and received them back in August of 2010. Living in Florida at the time we started planting the seeds as soon as we received them. In south Florida you can grow year round. We received 14 different types of tomatoes as my wife requested that she wanted a lot of different tomatoes. Along with that order we received 6 different types of beans, one of which is called the Mayflower Bean, because the original seeds came over on the Mayflower back in 1620, one corn only (non GMO corn is hard to get because each year Monsanto’s GMO varieties are taking over the organic and Heirloom varieties people have been working so hard for so many years to preserve for our future generations), 4 different types of lettuce, 1 spinach, 2 cabbage, 2 greens and numerous other vegetables. We started growing them in Florida, but we had to use raised beds because the soil was just sand and nor suitable to grow a garden in the virgin soil. We have used about 2/3 rds of the original seeds and have saved seeds from the vegetables we liked best. Over the past 3 years those original packages of 20 seeds each has turned into hundreds. A year and half ago we decided to move to Kentucky and one of our most prized possessions were our heirloom seeds. We started a garden last season with our prized seeds and are continuing with those same original seeds this year.
This past fall we started aquiring open pollinated seed that are indigenous to this area and hopefully pass on these future heirlooms to our children and future generations.
This will be our first year with Grow Appalachia and we are very excited to start our 2013 garden with the help of the program’s resources and the knowledge and experience of you old timers that know gardening in eastern Kentucky like they know the back of their hand.
I wanted to give this blog for the new gardeners that are just starting and learning as we did over 3 years ago. Good luck with your new adventure into sustainable living.