Thursday, 22 December 2011

Heritage or modern seed?

I have bought quite a few seeds from the Real Seeds Catalogue but maybe I should have tried a little harder to buy heritage seeds.

However, if you want disease resistant varieties because you need to grow without pesticides then sometimes you need to compromise.  Also, I want to be able to keep some of my vegetables stored over winter and these good keeping varieties are not necessarily heritage.  Cauliflower: Brassica oleracea botrytis 'Clapton F1 Hybrid'  is a club root resistant variety so I thought that I would try it.  It was also half price in an end of season sale so I could not resist it. (Several others of the F1 seeds were in the sale as well so I got them too)  I have been growing Daucus carota 'Flyaway F1 Hybrid' for years to combat carrot root fly.  This year I am growing Resistafly F1 Hybrid.

The bottom line is to produce some organic carrots to eat. To make this a little more certain I will be growing crops that are resistant to pests.

I would like to believe that heritage plants have a greater affinity for mychorrhizal fungi and grow even better with charcoal but I have not found any significant difference between modern varieties and heritage grown with charcoal.  Both types of plants seem to benefit from the application of inoculated charcoal and  mychorrhiza.  Keeping the old varieties going is more to do with biodiversity than anything else.

I have two dust bins full of marinading lump wood, barbecue charcoal.  The liquid is made up of comfrey, nettle, sweet cicely, worm bin and diluted pigeon manure.  It has been marinading for at least five months now and I will not use it until the spring.  I reckon that will be ample time for the charcoal to take up nutrients.

It will be used on the potatoes first.  I cannot get barbecue charcoal at the moment because there is none in the shops, however I still have the Takesumi charcoal to experiment with.

While some of the old vegetable varieties are better flavoured there are many that are not and they are not so disease resistant either.

Looking around the allotment site people are using the same varieties year after year because they grow well in our allotment soil  with our north facing aspect.  These varieties are more or less the same as I am growing some of which are F1 hybrids. I think that I will continue to buy F1 seed at the moment.

Finally, I have got into growing particular varieties and want to carry on if I can.
This is why I kept some seed in 2011 and I am going to sow it during next season (2012). Seed saving has been quite successful this year so I am going to continue to collect my own seed.  For this I need non F1 hybrids because only these will breed true.  Maybe this is an argument for selecting heritage seeds. So, there are good reasons for getting both F1 hybrids and heritage seed and I will be using both.

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