Heirloom Seeds and Plants

Heirloom vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs are varieties that have remained popular with home gardeners because they grow well and taste great. Loosely defined as plant varieties that have been grown for at least three generations (and sometimes for three or more centuries!), heirloom food plants are varieties that have been selected for their flavor, resistance to pests and diseases, and other traits important to home gardeners. Unlike modern hybrids, heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, which means they will breed true and can be saved by the gardener from year to year — an important consideration for food security and self-sufficiency. Also, heirloom seeds are never genetically engineered.

Mother Earth News Contributing Editor WILLIAM WOYS WEAVER is an expert on how to grow and cook with heirloom varieties. In the following articles from our Amazin’ Archive, he explains the history of outstanding heirlooms, along with growing advice and recipes. You'll also enjoy the lovely photographs that garden photographer ROB CARDILLO shot in Weaver's own garden and kitchen. To learn more about Weaver, check out his firsthand report, Harvesting Our Heirloom History.


Martynias * Abraham Lincoln Tomatoes * Cherokee Popcorn * Three Phunky Pumpkins * Oca * Hunan Winged Beans * Buckshorn Plantain * Sorrels * Saturn Peaches * Yacon * Three Rare Beans * Aji Límo Peppers * Cornelian Cherries * Garlic Scapes * Golden Corn Salad * Mouse Melons * Snake Gourds * Yokohama Squash 

* More about William Woys Weaver
* How to Find Heirloom Seeds 

Burr Gherkins

(December 2008/January 2009)

West Indian Burr Gherkins 

Burr gherkins are a fun and interesting garden addition for those who love pickles or wish to add interest to soups and stir fries. They can also be eaten raw like cucumbers. Read about how easy they are to grow and harvest, and try out this recipe for a hot and spicy Brazillian stir-fry, called “maxixada.”

Gourdseed Corn 

(October/November 2008)

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