Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why It Makes Sense to Plant Heirloom Seeds

There is no denying that growing a vegetable garden can be satisfying on many levels.  For our family, it's hard to decide which aspect of gardening is our favorite.  We love the extra fresh taste of our home grown veggies and the knowledge that we are not putting dangerous pesticides or chemical fertilizers on our food and into our bodies.  But with a family as large as ours, the money savings is a hands down, no-brainer reason to grow a garden! 

Early in my gardening years, I went to the store each year to purchase seeds and plants in preparation for the garden.  And although the expense was nothing compared to the savings generated by the garden, we still were spending money.  Most of what we planted was hybridized seeds and plants.   (To the best of my understanding, if you were to save seeds from a hybrid plant, you would not likely get the same type of plant when you sow those saved seeds the next year.)

Going To The Next Level!

I wanted to find a way to save even more money in our quest for self-sufficiency. To be able to save seeds to plant for future gardens just made so much sense.   Heirloom seeds were the answer!  With heirloom seeds you can plant some of the saved seeds from your harvested crop the succeeding year and they will reproduce true to their parent plant.  Over time, the expense of gardening becomes less and eventually becomes a gain!   For more details on how to save seeds, you can read this guide.

How Do You Find Heirloom Seeds?
There are multiple companies that sell heirloom seeds.   You can also find heirloom varieties in the nursery or store.  Just do a little research of the particular breed to find out if it is hybrid or heirloom prior to purchasing. 

One company that we've been very happy with over the last few years is the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company.  They put out a book that you can find here. They are located in Mansfield, Missouri and their website is www.rareseeds.com.  They also put out a beautiful annual catalog that is a real work of art.  I'm so surprised in these times to receive this gorgeous catalog in the mail each year!   There is my uncompensated and unsolicited endorsement for you guys at Baker Creek! 

Saving Your Seeds
Seeds are easy to save, with some small variance of method.  Generally, you wait until a healthy vegetable has ripened and dry the seeds at room temperature until no moisture is evident.  The seeds can be stored in airtight containers until the next season.  It isn't difficult to do.  I will plan to walk you through the process a little later in the season with specifics for each type of plant.  At this point however, you can focus on making sure the seeds you plant are not hybrids.  It is one more step you can take to live independently and frugally.

Heirloom Bean Seeds Saved From Our Garden
Pretty, aren't they?

Planting Grocery Store Dried Beans

One last thought....

Most dried beans that you purchase at your grocery store can be planted and will grow.   They will have the same growing requirements as any variety of green bean.  Just for fun, we planted garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), Pinto beans and Great Northern beans last year which we purchased at our local grocery store.  They almost all (over 95%)  germinated and produced fine plants.   We allowed the Pinto beans to fully mature for use as a dried soup bean and the Great Northern beans we picked at a young tender stage and ate as a green bean.   We were so pleased with the results that we will try other varieties this next year.  I'd love to see how Black beans will produce.   At any rate, this could be a very economical source of seed for home gardeners.  I think we paid around $1.19 for 2 lbs of dried beans from the grocery store. The last time we purchased bean seeds from a seed company we spent approximately $2.00 for just a few ounces.


  1. Hmm, Didn't occur to me that store beans would sprout. That's fantastic! Truly shows that you could start a garden in any budget. Albeit most of it would include much more physical labor to compensate for the money not spent on things such as wooden borders or soil enrichments etc. You could make an initial investment of say $20 bucks for inexpensive seeds from any seed stand at the stores. Through manually double-digging everything, I'd venture you would find quite a nice harvest considering. From there on you could build off of it. Borders to keep from going made with grass and weed encroachment and the like. If we subtracted the bordering and buying fancy heirloom seeds we would have spent less than a hundred. Most of even that would have been the purchases of tools like a Fork.

    1. You make a really good point! You truly can start a garden with any budget. I'd love to reach more people with that very message. I believe freedom starts with being able to feed yourself no matter the state of society.


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