Modern heirlooms

Gardeners looking for the new often find it in the old. Seed Savers Exchange, for example, lists three new edible selections in its 2008 catalog. But how can the sweet, heavy-fruited muskmelon called 'Healy's Pride', first grown in Illinois in 1952 by Elmer James Healy, be new? Because until now, it was lost to the commercial seed trade. By relocating and reclaiming long-forgotton seed varieties, SSE places many old-timey favorites into the hands of modern gardeners. Other new oldies in the catalog include 'Japanese Trifele Black Tomato', which has a rich, full flavor and dark skin purported to rarely crack, and the sweet, crisp 'Bull Nose Bell Pepper', grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. SSE offers benefits to those who support the nonprofit organization and its seed preservation work through an annual membership fee of $35. Each year, members have access to more than 11,000 rare varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains. SSE seeds are available to the general public through its catalog. For more information, visit www.seedsavers.org, or write to 3094 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA 52101.

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