At this time of year, many gardeners are turning their attention to ordering seeds to sow in spring. So I thought this could be a good time to talk briefly about why it is a good idea to grow heritage seeds.
Heritage seeds are seeds which have been bred, often over a long period of time, which are not F1 hybrids. Unlike F1 hybrids, heritage seeds will generally ‘come true’. In other words, when you sow them they will grow into plants similar in taste and other properties to the plant from which they were collected.
If you would like to save your own seeds in your kitchen garden, then heritage varieties (ideally organic options where possible) are generally the best to choose. By sowing those seeds next year, and then repeating this process with your best performing plants, you can gradually be part of the plant breeding process and grow plants that are subtly better suited to your particular location.
Choosing heritage seeds also means that you can select more unusual or rare varieties of common fruits and vegetables. This means that you can help in preserving crop biodiversity. Since commercial producers will tend to stick to a few varieties that stand up best to an industrial scale food system, we have lost a lot of the diversity that used to exist, and risk an ever more vulnerable and homogenous food supply.
Above and beyond these things, heritage seeds can also simply provide better taste, and can sometimes even be higher in certain nutrients.
One final thing to consider is that, if you are growing your crops for sale, you may be able to command higher prices and find your place in the market more easily if you focus on growing more unusual heritage varieties that no one else in your area provides.
Hybrid type seeds can sometimes bring benefits too – with increased disease resistance, for example. But choosing predominantly heritage seeds can be a good way to go.