The Many Benefits of Heirloom Vegetables

Why all the buzz about heirloom vegetables? Heirloom vegetables are typically old varieties (sometimes over 100 years old) of vegetables that were used before modern plant breeders introduced hybrid varieties. If you’ve ever tasted heirloom vegetables, the number one reason you’ll want to grow (or buy) these amazing veggies is because they taste fantastic. The reason why they are so much better? Hybrid vegetables are bred to last longer after picking, but in exchange a lot of the taste is sacrificed. But that’s not the only reason to go with heirloom vegetables:

More Nutritious

Hybrids have been created also to yield more fruit/vegetables, which in turn can lead to lower nutritional value per plant. For example, Official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data shows that the calcium content of broccoli averaged 12.9 milligrams per gram of dry weight in 1950, but only 4.4 mg/g dry weight in 2003. Read more here.

Open Pollination

If you have a garden and hate buying new seeds or plants each and every year, heirlooms are the answer. Since they open pollinate you can save the seeds from plants and reuse them in future years. No more “guessing” which plant will work best for your garden.

Better Ripening

While store-bought hybrid seeds are programmed to ripen all at once (or over a short period of time), heirlooms will ripen more evenly so you get a consistent supply of fresh vegetables rather than an influx that you have to deal with before spoilage occurs.


Heirloom seeds tend to be less expensive than their engineered cousins, so you can save money when it comes time to buy seeds. If you keep your seeds after each year’s harvest then the cost drops to zero. And what could be better than free vegetables!

What to Choose?

Not sure what heirloom vegetable to plant? Here are a few options:

  • Sweet Chocolate Peppers: Gorgeous dark brown on the outside, bright red on the inside, delicious and sweet.
  • Violetta Italia Cauliflower: You guessed it, purple cauliflower! High in fiber, and delicious raw or steamed.
  • Gold Rush Zucchini: A lovely bright yellow, low in seeds, and very pest resistant.
  • Giant Red Celery: Deep red color, great taste.
  • Purple Majesty Potato: Get your kids eating spuds with these antioxidant-rich potatoes.
  • Black Cherry-Tomatoes: Bite-size tomatoes with great flavor!

Now that you’ve learned all about heirloom vegetables you can start planning your garden for next year. And in the meantime, be sure to be on the lookout for heirloom vegetables at the farmer’s markets. You’re likely to find heirloom varieties of tomatoes that will have you anticipating growing your own amazing, tasty tomatoes next year.