Monthly Challenge: Edible heirlooms

27th January 2012 by

Allotmenters’ ‘hungry season’ is almost at an end, and it’s that exciting time of year when it’s time to browse through seed catalogues, plan your home-grown-dinner calendar and get potting.

This month’s challenge is to combine this pleasure with doing some good for that magic thing that makes the world go round – no, not money… genetic diversity.

It’s as important to preserve plant diversity as it is that of animals like polar bears and tree frogs. The less we rely on a small number of varieties, the lower the risks to our food supply (and the better for our health). Greater plant variety also raises the chances of viable foodstuffs adapting well to climate change as we feel our way through an unpredictable 21st Century. So here is something you can do on your own windowsill or back garden that will make a real, positive difference.

So we’re asking you to be sure to order some heirloom or heritage seeds this year among your usual crop wishlist. These are old varieties that are not commonly grown these days. Not only can you help rescue these varieties for the future, you can have fun by impressing your friends with purple carrots and other surprising blasts from the past!

And we’d love you to get in touch to tell us what veggie treasures you’ve unearthed.

And once you’ve got your first batches of seeds bought (or swapped), you can start to learn the vital skill of seed-saving, meaning future generations will have you to thank for their nutritious meal.

5 Responses to “Monthly Challenge: Edible heirlooms”

  1. Kerry Lane says:

    The heritage seed library is awesome if you have a space to grow in. I really want to get a growing space so I can try the african horned cucumbers again!

  2. Kirtsy says:

    Timber Press has a new book on heirloom veg out. I got it in the post the other day. Which varieties do you suggest trying?

  3. Gavin says:

    Kirsty, I’d say grow whichever ones you’d really want to eat! Or whatever else might excite you about them. For instance, is there a particular heirloom that has a local connection to your region? A great story behind it? Or if you have kids who tend to turn up their noses at vegetables, what about getting them excited about purple carrots or anything that will get them enthused and grinning. And if you get them to help you plant them and then tend for them – and especially harvest them – you’ll be onto a winner and they’ll be more likely to taste them (some studies actually show this). Good luck – let us know what you choose and how you get on.

  4. Liz says:

    I love stripey tomatoes, so I’ll be planting some of these this year: Maybe a red or a green zebra?

  5. Liz says:

    p.s. Obviously the Ryan Gosling internet meme is all over this:

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