Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter, Beam’s Yellow Pear, Big Zebra, Paul Robeson….No, I did not just describe a financial guru, a type of pear, an animal you would see at the zoo or someone’s father. Those are actually the name of heirloom varieties of tomatoes. Urban Roots just announced the arrival of their heirloom seedlings whose selection this year includes those tomato varieties mentioned above.
Heirloom is one of those words that has creeped back into people’s food vocabulary in recent years for many reasons. While there is no clear cut definition for heirloom when it is used to describe plants, there is no denying their delicious, aromatic taste. I guess the most basic definition is that heirloom refers to those vegetable or fruit seedlings that were in existence before the end of WWII (1945). This marked the beginning of large farmers and industrialized farms using more and more hybrid seeds. In essence a true heirloom is a cultivar that has been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations and not crossed with any other “breed”. They must be open-pollinated varieties that were bred and stabilized using traditional breeding practices (no GMO’s allowed!).
Teaming up with Thorpe’s Family Organic Farm, Urban Roots is offering a variety of heirloom seedlings this season including eggplant and sweet and hot peppers. The seedlings are $1.99 each and well worth the money. Engage your inner gardener this season and plant some heirloom vegetables!