What is an Heirloom seed anyway?
Written by Adam Boddy Date Posted: 3 May 2013
Recently we have had a lot of customers asking us if our seeds are heirloom. The answer to this question is not as simple as you might think. Its not really a question we can answer with a definitive YES or NO. Even when discussing one single variety, what exactly are you asking us, do you know what an Heirloom seed actually is?
The truth is that there is a fair amount of debate over what the term heirloom in relation to seed actually means but lets start with 3 points that everyone agrees on first:
1.) Heirloom seed must be open pollinated: Open pollinated varieties are plants that are pollinated by insects, birds, wind and other natural means. They are more genetically diverse and if grown in isolation will produce seed that is 'true to type'.
2.) Heirloom seed must be bred and stabilized using classic breeding practices.
3.) No genetically modified seeds can be considered Heirloom.
So you have some seed that meets the above 3 points is it Heirloom or isn't it? Now is the part of the argument that is highly debated:
4.) Heirloom seed needs to have been in existence for a long time, its the actual length of time that is debated:
- Some say seed needs to have originated over 50 years ago to be considered Heirloom.
- Others say seed needs to have originated over 100 years ago to be considered Heirloom.
- While others say seed needs to have been available before 1945. (End of Word War II)
- And others say seed needs to have been available before 1951.
(beginning of widespread hybrid seed introduction)
- To make all of this even more confusing some people use the term Heirloom seed in the literal sense: they simply mean a variety that has been nurtured and selected by a family, farm or small community over generations.
So back to the original question:
Are the seeds at TheSeedCollection Heirloom?
Yes, many of our varieties are heirloom. All of them though are open pollinated which we believe is the more important fact. Additonally none of our seeds are genetically modified, none are chemically treated and none are hybrids.
Related blog posts:
Author: John Mauger Date Posted: 20 April 2017
A seed contains the blueprint or instructions to produce a new plant. Traditionally all seeds were open-pollinated. That is; the pollen from the anther entered the stigma and traveled to the ovary. Fertilisation occurred and seeds were formed...
Recent blog posts:
Author: The Seed Collection Pty Ltd Date Posted: 6 June 2018
Pumpkins are an impressive crop, bringing colour & drama throughout summer and autumn. But if you want your gourds to be real talking point, size matters. The lessons learned by competitive pumpkin growers can give your fruits a healthy boost in stature.
Author: The Seed Collection Pty Ltd Date Posted: 30 May 2018
Crop rotation is all about keeping your soil as naturally fertile as possible, as well as reducing the problems of pests and disease. This article explains the benefits and offers a beginner's guide to getting started.
Author: The Seed Collection Pty Ltd Date Posted: 8 May 2018
Every gardener needs to decide how to start their home-grown plants off in life. Is it better to raise them from seed, or to buy ready-grown seedlings? This article covers the many advantages of sowing seeds, along with a few minus points to consider.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 1 May 2018
Getting started with gardening is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome. You might think the amount of knowledge you need is off-putting, but it's not as complicated or difficult as it seems. Here are 8 ways it can bring benefit to your daily life.
View all blog posts
RE: What is an Heirloom seed anyway?
By: JANE BROOKMAN on 17 March 2016
Hi, do you realise you wrote genitally diverse? Was it supposed to be genetically??