A few weeks ago I was introduced to the Populuxe Seed Bank by Laura from Cubits. I immediately contacted Kelly to request a handful or beautiful heirloom seeds for our summer garden. She was kind enough to send two varieties of pole beans and two varieties of tomato in the mail for us.
I also seized the opportunity to pick her brain a little. I know garden week is technically over, but it is still planting season. This was one of my most fascinating interviews to date! It is packed full of interesting tidbits and tons of informational nuggets for the beginner or experienced gardener.
Can you define ‘heirloom’ to us?
The term “heirloom” can be a little nebulous at times, with no strictly standardized definition. In most cases, however, heirloom (or heritage) refers to any plant variety that is 50 years or older that is open-pollinated (open-pollinated meaning that the plant is non-hybridized, and will produce seeds that produce offspring like the parent plant by natural means). So all heirlooms are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are necessarily heirlooms. An example is Tomato ‘Green Zebra’ which is frequently called an heirloom, but hasn’t reached the age where it can yet be called as such.
Why grow heirlooms as opposed to common varieties?
Where to begin? There are actually many heirlooms that are quite common varieties! Many leafy greens you can purchase as starts are heirloom or OP, and it’s becoming more and more common to find heirloom tomatoes, squash, and peppers as starts at nurseries. When considering heirloom (or OP) vs. hybrid varieties – it’s where my anti-establishmentism makes its roots really known – there’s a self-sufficiency to open pollinated varieties that you can’t achieve with hybrids. Since you can save your own seeds, you don’t have to purchase (more expensive) starts year after year, or even seeds. There’s also the ability to have plants become more adapted to your area if you grow and select your own seed every year. While there are some hybrids that are trying to emulate the classic heirloom flavours, in my experience none can come close. You compare a beefstake hybrid tomato with a ‘Cherokee Purple’ heirloom tomato, and there is absolutely no contest. So even if you couldn’t give a damn about the politics of our food system, the flavour difference alone is well worth it. I figure, if you’re going to put that much time and effort into growing your own food, why not get the best possible flavour you can get?
What is next for the seed bank?
It’s grown so rapidly, I’m still struggling to catch up just with storage (and requests)! What I would like to do next is set up some kind of membership, have a network of people to do breeding projects with, and set up a network of independent seed banks so we can share resources and varieties to ensure the widest possibly distribution of them. There’s a million things I want to do!
What are some of your all-time favorite heirloom varieties you have run across so far?
Some of my absolute favourites (and I’m going to include open-pollinated in here just to round it out!) is ‘Stupice’, ‘Silvery Fir Tree’, ‘Tsygan’, and ‘German Cascade’. Of course if you ask me on a different day it can always change because my mind just never stays made up! ‘Stupice’ is a great standard that seems to grow well just about anywhere and always gives huge yields. ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ is great for containers, and the foliage is totally unique. ‘Tsygan’ is a Russian commercial variety that thrives in really hot, humid climates, and ‘German Cascade’ is a little unassuming red tomato – about the size of a tennis ball, that has a very unique flavour that’s difficult to describe (and you will either love it or hate it).
What is your biggest tip for beginning gardeners?
Don’t get discouraged! I know a lot of beginner gardeners – and I was in the exact same boat – have a less than stellar first year. It’s easy to get discouraged when your plants become ravaged with disease or pests, or your harvests or poor, or the food isn’t as tasty as you thought it was going to be. Gardening is as much about discovery and learning as the harvest, so take each season as a learning experience, and build on that new knowledge each year. It will get easier, and things will become second nature. And be prepared to never finish learning and experimenting, because there will always be something new to incorporate into your knowledge and techniques.
All images courtesy of Populuxe.
I finally have a day off and with the dull morning light, quiet house, gentle rain and comfy lounge clothes I am feeling at ease. Having spent a chunk of the morning looking at photos of the royal wedding, I’m also feeling a little dreamy and romantic. In that frame of mind I put together this treasury. I have to share some of the gorgeous items I found. Enjoy…
I think Kate made the perfect choice (or her stylist did) with that stunning McQueen. Philippa looked gorgeous as well. Tasteful, classy and romantic. I can’t wait to see the rest of the details.
Photo courtesy of CNN.
One of my favorite shops to peruse is Kjoo. The mix of natural leather and bright knit details is a perfect mix of handmade craftsmanship and contemporary style. Maria has been kind enough to offer Lost & Fawned readers 15% off with the discount code Lostandfawned15 at purchase! Treat yourself or someone you love to a little something to start your summer wardrobe!
Here are some of my picks from Kjoo…
Unfortunately thanks to a new schedule at the day-job, posting will be sporadic at best this week while I figure things out. It’s going to be hectic and stressful and by the time I make it home at night, make dinner and take care of the garden I’m exhausted. I will do my best to get a little something up though. I hope you all are having a lovely spring week! Thanks for sticking with me!
I’m loving the crisp whites, khaki, navy and faded denim J Crew has paired with pretty brights this season! The sandals are all amazing and I’m in LOVE with that coral striped straw tote. I just wish I had an amazing vacation to wear that linen beach cover-up over a cute suit (maybe the plumeria pattern). For more spring looks and details on specific pieces check out their ‘Looks we love‘.
I feel like taking a trip to the mountains right now. When I was little we went to a wedding in Yosemite, and even though there is a rule to not taking anything from the park, I was a little too young to fully understand and brought home a small collection of pine cones, feathers and rocks. I think I still have some of those treasures stashed away in a box at my mom’s house. I guess this is kind of my grown up version of that story.
Find more over here.
Sorry for the delay! I worked a full day yesterday and crashed when I got home. BUT I’m so pleased to announce the winner of the Cubits organic herb seed giveaway this morning. And the winner is….
Thank you so much to everyone for entering! If you have a second, it would be wonderful to vote again for Laura’s grant. It would mean a lot to the urban gardening community and to Laura’s family. Every vote helps! And treat yourself to some seeds for your home garden at Cubits!
Thank you so much Laura! Good luck with the grant and your summer garden!
Thanks to some new goodies from Ikea, things are beginning to come together upstairs. We purchased the simple FJELLSE frame with the intention some eventually moding it. It makes a perfect little home for the squirrel couple Jared bought me from Sleepy King and my papercut print from Elsita. The bed will be collecting a pile of pillows over time, but it’s already a perfect spot to watch a movie or take a nap.
Next up, DIY curtains! We have 3 curious little windows upstairs that are an odd size. I wasn’t thrilled with my options anywhere, but I loved this fabric from Ikea, so I’m going to try my hand at sewing some curtains to finally get these sheets off the windows.