|Located in South Western Pennsylvania, we are a small, family run seed
house that has been in the mail order business since 1988. When we started this
business, our first priority was to offer old fashioned vegetables noted for
their taste. All of the varieties we offer are open pollinated (non hybrid) and
have been grown by generations of backyard gardeners. The flower varieties that
we offer have that simple, old fashioned beauty of days gone by. We added herb
seeds to our catalog after many requests from our customers to do so. We have a
network of gardeners throughout the United States that are constantly testing
the varieties we offer for sale, to ensure they do well in a backyard garden
setting. Many of the seeds we offer have come from backyard gardeners, whose
families have saved the seeds for generations, throughout the United States,
Canada, Mexico and overseas. We sell quality seeds (meet or exceed federal
standards) at low prices. Our service is the fastest in the business.
Why grow heirlooms?
Remember those tomatoes your Grandmother grew, or the ones that the farmer down the road used to sell at his roadside stand? With the advent of hybrid seeds, the older open-pollinated varieties are getting harder to find. While the hybrids have many advantages (disease resistance, greater productivity, more uniform fruit, etc.) they just can't match the heirlooms for taste, and isn't that why you grow your own vegetables? With a little extra care and planning, the heirloom varieties can do just as well as the hybrids in your backyard garden. As for flower varieties, many of today's nurseries consistently offer the same varieties year after year, with little variation. The older varieties seem to have taken a back seat to the newer, flashier varieties. This year, why not try some of the simple old fashioned varieties in your garden? We think you will be pleasantly surprised! Don't forget to plant a few herbs, as well. They'll complement your fresh produce nicely on the dinner table. After tasting your own freshly picked herbs, you'll readily agree to their superior taste! Once you try them, you'll always insist on growing your own!!
What exactly is an heirloom variety?
Sorry to say, but there is no "exact" definition for this term. In fact, there have been entire books dedicated to this subject and still there is no agreement between gardeners as to what constitutes an heirloom and what does not.
First, lets try to cover what everyone agrees on. Heirlooms are always open-pollinated varieties. This means that if the seeds produced from the plant are properly saved, they will produce the same variety year after year. This cannot be done with hybrids, which are a cross between two separate varieties, as the seed produced from those plants will either be sterile, or start to revert back to the parent plants.
The next part of the definition starts to get a little fuzzy. Most gardeners agree that heirloom varieties should be at least 50 years old. But can a variety that is 48 or 49 years old be eliminated from this group, but then be eligible 1 or 2 years later? And what about an improved variety of an old favorite? We'll let the so called "experts" argue about this one!
Lastly, many gardeners think there should be some history behind the variety, perhaps a story on a variety's introduction, some ethnic background or a tie to a certain time in history. Part of the joy of growing heirlooms is discovering these stories behind the seeds. But in some cases, the early history of some seeds is not known. Should these varieties be eliminated from the group? Many heirloom gardeners will only grow varieties introduced outside the seed trade. What about the older varieties that were originally introduced by professional plant breeders over 100 years ago? Would it be fair to eliminate all of these varieties from the group?
In conclusion, we believe gardening should be fun. So, how
strict you want your definition to be is purely a personal matter. Choose the
varieties that seem the most interesting to you! Keep growing your old
favorites, but make sure to include a few different ones each year. You may find
varieties you like even more!