“Freckles” is an heirloom lettuce that performs well in the Pikes Peak region.

“Heirloom seeds are better, right?” It’s a question I hear a lot when I’m teaching classes on growing your own veggies. Just the term “heirloom” makes us think of precious family treasures, fine antiques. “Heirloom seeds” is a phrase that sells and many seed companies take full advantage of it.

Heirloom vegetables (or flowers) are varieties that have been in cultivation a long time—decades, if not centuries—and are still being grown today. They’re what your great grandmother would have sown in her garden. They’re the antiques of the gardening world.

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Q: What’s the difference between hybrid, heirloom, vintage, and heritage plants? I see these terms used in gardening catalogs and articles, but I have no idea what they mean.

A: Coming across these terms can be confusing to anyone. They are used in describing all types of plants, but you’ve probably noticed them most often used when referring to vegetable varieties. Let’s see if we can provide some clear definitions. (more…)

th_100_6559-1-1[1]Want to add a little tang to your salad?  Add Tigerella Tomato(Lycopersicon esculentum) to your list of vegetables to grow in your garden for next year.  I know it feels like winter outside right now, but now is the time to be thinking about what you want to grow next summer.  Did the tomatoes you grew this summer live up to your expectations?  Are you like me and like trying out new vegetables every year?

Tigerella tomatoes are an English heirloom variety.  They are not those big tomatoes that you like putting on your hamburger.  When mature they are the size of a billiard ball.  It is an indeterminate tomato and highly productive.  They produce a 4-6 oz. fruit with a rich, tangy flavor.  They mature in 85-100 days and here in Colorado maturity date is a factor to look at when selecting vegetables to grow in your garden.  Of course as many of you know maturity date can vary from location to location here in Colorado Springs. (more…)