We prefer to use heirloom vegetable varieties in our garden for a number of reasons (for full details on why see Heirloom Vegetables – Better For The Backyard Garden). Heirloom vegetables varieties refer to those vegetable varieties that are open-pollinated and have been grown for at least 50 years (although most have been around for close to 100 years or more).
Because heirloom vegetable varieties are open-pollinated, you can save seeds from their fruits or vegetables each year and plant them again next year and so on. That’s much less expensive and more self-sustaining than purchasing hybrid seed each year (that won’t breed true and so can’t be saved).
Additionally, if you save your own seed, the vegetables gradually acclimate to your garden conditions and become even more productive and disease resistant over time. Unlike hybrids that have often been bred for shipping, machine harvesting, or other characteristics at the expense of flavor, heirloom varieties typically have excellent flavor. Heirlooms also ripen gradually rather than all at once like many hybrid varieties, thereby allowing gardeners to spread the harvest and abundance over time.
My problem with heirlooms is that there seem to be so many wonderful varieties out there to try. There are hundreds of heirloom varieties to choose from – but how to pick? I struggle with this question each year.
Then, I had the brilliant idea of asking my homesteading friends and publishing a roundup of everyone’s favorite heirloom varieties! I know that homesteaders aren’t going to put up with poor yields, failed crops, or insipid flavor. So if they’ve written a blog post about a wonderful heirloom variety or varieties, then I know it’s a solid recommendation.
Together, we can help each other find the best heirlooms and reduce the trial and error process. The following are those varieties that come highly recommended and a homesteader has taken the time to write a post about why (often with great instructions on how to grow them too). Be sure to click through to these websites to see the beautiful photos of these wonderful heirlooms!
I’ll start with a green pole bean that we grow and save every year. I love it, it’s called Fortex and the link is here: Awesome Homestead Green Bean – Fortex!
Laurie from Common Sense Home likes the pole bean variety Emerite and writes about it here: Grow Pole Beans For Easy Picking And Preserving
EDIBLE PODDED PEA
Another vegetable that we grow every year are these sugar snap peas: Grow Sugar Snap Peas
Annie at Country Living in a Cariboo Valley has a shelling pea that they love to eat and save: Never Buy Pea Seeds Again
Jenna from The Flip Flop Barnyard loves this corn variety: Growing Glass Gem Corn
Chris McLaughlin writing for Little House On The Prairie recommends these heirloom corn varieties: Growing Heirloom Corn Varieties
Sarah from The Free Range Life has 7 cucumber varieties that she recommends: 7 Cucumber Varieties To Grow This Year
Sarah from The Free Range Life also has several eggplant varieties that she recommends: 7 Amazing Eggplant Varieties To Try This Year!
Chris McLaughlin writing for Little House On The Prairie has several lettuce varieties that she recommends: Growing Historical Lettuce Varieties
TOMATOES (Lots of Recommendations Here!)
From Janet at Timber Creek Farmer: Grow Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes
From Anna at Salt In My Coffee: 7 Heirloom Tomatoes You Need In Your Garden
From Anna at Northern Homestead: Heirloom Tomato Varieties We Grow In A Northern Garden
Jenna from The Flip Flop Barnyard has: Growing Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes
From Charlene at Provident Home Companion: Tomato Report
This list of heirlooms just begins to touch on all the wonderful varieties out there because it doesn’t yet include things like zucchini, radishes, turnips, and so many other vegetables. But it’s a start and I’m excited about getting some of these varieties to try this year in our garden!
If you need some help finding these varieties, this page (Links to Free Garden Seed Catalogs) will help you find suppliers for these heirloom varieties.