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Heirloom Seeds Equal Family Heirlooms

What's the quickest way to catch a case of spring fever? Seeds. Whether it's online sites, catalogs or a strategically placed stand at your local garden center, there's nothing like a pack of seeds to get a gardener itching for the growing season.

This year as you peruse your seeds sources, be sure to select a few heirloom seeds. The classification of a plant as an heirloom depends a lot on to whom you are talking. Some gardeners think any seed that has been handed down the family line qualifies. Others feel that the plant variety must be more than 50 to 100 years old. One characteristic of heirloom seeds you can bank on is that they are open pollinated rather than hybridized. This means saved seeds will reproduce the same characteristics every generation.

Black Seeded Simpson LettuceThere are many reasons to grow heirloom plants. Nostalgia, preservation of genetics and my favorite, taste. You can’t beat the flavor of an heirloom tomato such as 'Black Krim' or ‘Mortgage Lifter’.

You don't have to be a seed saver to grow heirlooms. Their increased popularity means seeds are more readily available. You can purchase them from garden centers and mail order catalogs. Seed swaps are also a great place to pick them up. Last September I took some American Basket Flower (Centaurea americana) seeds to the swap at Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival and traded them for some real treasures.

5 Heirloom Seeds to Try