heirloom

Heirloom & Open Pollinated

| September 8, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

An heirloom plant is a cultivar that existed before plant breeders introduced hybrid cultivars. However, authorities don’t agree on an exact cutoff date.

Although open-pollinated cultivars have been introduced after 1951, a widely accepted date, others believe the cultivar needs to have a documented history of 50 or even 100 years. Some believe the date to be 1945.

Regardless of which camp you are in, the basic principals generally apply. The plant must be open pollinated, and cannot be a hybrid produced by a breeder through controlled pollination or genetic modification.

There are some caveats and exceptions. A good example is Bloody Butcher Corn, which has a rich documented history dating back to about 1845, but originated in the 1800′s by mixing Native American corn with settlers’ corn. Which makes it a hybrid, but it predates most authorities’ standards.

Other cultivars, like Oaxacan Green Corn or Hopi Blue corn more closely adhere to the rules, and are ancient varieties that have existed for centuries.

So what is the open pollinated component to the heirloom rules? Open pollination is pollination through natural mechanisms. Those mechanisms include, insects such as bees, birds, wind, or self pollinating(cleistogamy) plants.
There are also exceptions and caveats to open pollination. Many heirloom cultivars have been propagated and maintained through cuttings and transplants, which requires no pollination. With the exception of self pollinating plants, open pollination does not regulate the parent source of pollination.

Open pollination results in plants with a wider variation in genetic traits, and increases biodiversity. In that way, the principles of open pollination clash with the definitions and principles of heirloom cultivars. A 1st generation of an open pollinated cultivar can produce undesirable ‘rogue’ plants, that exhibit genetic traits that are significantly different from their parent plant.

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IncrEdible Color

| April 13, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Garden vegetables don’t have to be green and boring.  The right selection of plants can produce vibrant edible color.  Check out our suggestions for some fresh ideas on colorful veggie fare.

Famrers Market

Amaranth: (Amaranthus Caudatus,generically known as Love Lies Bleeding pictured on homepage) Amaranth is a flower ranging from gold to red to purple, with edible leaves and seeds.  The seeds are also a gluten free psuedograin.

Beans: Purple Podded Pole Bean, Swiss Heirloom, Velour Dwarf Purple French Bean Bush, Homer Nelson Family Pink Tip Half Runner Bean, Mosaic Yard Long Bean, Swiss Landfrauen, Purple Italian Marconi Stringless, Cascade Giant Pole Snap Bean, Cosse Violette Pole Bean.

Cabbage: Purple Cabbage, Red Cabbage

Carrots: Selective breeding can produce a plethora of carrot colors

Purple Carrots

Chard: Chard is available in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow, to orange, red, and purple. It’s aesthetic both in the garden, and on a plate.

Corn: White, Silver, Bicolor, Ruby, Pink Blue, Red, Black, and Streaked.  The hybrids and varieties are nearly endless.

Garlic: Heirloom Garlic has a white with a purple ombre

Kale: Purple Kale

Lettuce: Red Leaf, Red Frilled, Belgium Endive

Okra: Red and Burgundy Varieties

Peppers: Bell Peppers, Pri Pri, Thai, Tabasco, Habanero, Cubanelle, Scotch Bonnet, Datil

Potato: Rasalind, Blue Swede, redskin

Radish: A lot of varieties offer different shades of color, and slice patterns. Interesting varieties include: Bunny Tail, Plum Purple, Watermelon, and Daikon.

Squash: Yellow Summer Squash, Yellow Crookneck.

Tomatoes: Yeah, we know! Botanically they ARE fruits, but we usually treat them like veggies so they make our list.  Tomatoes exist in a lot of hybrid, heirloom, and modified varieties.  They introduce bright colors, unique shapes, and a range of sizes into your garden fare.  Looking for a more unique or aesthetic variety?  Try and find some Black Sea Man, Snow White Cherry, Yellow Pear, Ida Gold, Black Krim, or Garden Peach.

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