Gardening With Heirloom Varieties

Food historian William Woys Weaver has been gardening with heirloom varieties since he was a boy. But finding his grandfather’s rare seed collection in a deep freeze may have been the critical point in determining his unique career path. Today, Weaver’s collection includes over 4,000 varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Read the fascinating story of how he revived his grandfather’s garden.



Each year, Weaver is gardening with heirloom varieties from his collection, and grows hundreds of varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Each year, Weaver is gardening with heirloom varieties from his collection, and grows hundreds of varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
The author’s grandfather, H. Ralph Weaver, circa 1930.
The author’s grandfather, H. Ralph Weaver, circa 1930.
Photo courtesy of William Woys Weaver
Careful records are required to maintain a seed collection with more than 4,000 varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Careful records are required to maintain a seed collection with more than 4,000 varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
Saving tomato seeds involves fermenting them.
Saving tomato seeds involves fermenting them.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
The beautifully speckled ‘Jackson’s Bush Lima’ bean.
The beautifully speckled ‘Jackson’s Bush Lima’ bean.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
Welsh onion.
Welsh onion.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
Heirlooms have richer flavors, and often more nutrients, than modern hybrids.
Heirlooms have richer flavors, and often more nutrients, than modern hybrids.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
Not all plants in the Roughwood Seed Collection are heirlooms; some new varieties have been developed by the author. ‘Roughwood Emperor’ dahlia.
Not all plants in the Roughwood Seed Collection are heirlooms; some new varieties have been developed by the author. ‘Roughwood Emperor’ dahlia.
Photo by Rob Cardillo
‘Weaver Mennonite’ pepper.
‘Weaver Mennonite’ pepper.
Photo by Rob Cardillo











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