A recent New York Times article,”Vegetable Gardens Are Booming in a Fallow Economy,” highlights the fact that vegetable gardening and local food consumption are increasing across the nation despite the poor economy.
Sep 15 2011
A recent National Geographic article, “Our Dwindling Food Variety,” highlights an important issue that Cornell Garden-Based Learning’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (VVfG) citizen science project is working to ameliorate – the rapid rate at which heirloom vegetable varieties are disappearing, and the overall reduction in commercially available variety diversity.
“What varieties are best for your garden?” This question, prominently featured on the homepage of Cornell GBL’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website, may be more complex and controversial than it initially appears.
A New York Times article published this week, “Heirloom Seeds or Flinty Hybrids?”, explores the wide spectrum of opinions regarding the relative merits of open pollinated heirloom and hybrid seeds. “Why not buckle up in a 1936 Oldsmobile coupe?” asks Rob Johnston, chairman of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, expressing a sentiment common amongst those skeptical of the heirloom hype. As sales of heirloom seeds continue to rise, some question whether their appeal is merely nostalgic or whether they serve as a point of pride for “greener than thou gardeners.”
Of course, heirloom seeds have not risen to prominence in recent years without a devoted following, who make their own impassioned arguments. Not only do they claim heirlooms offer greater diversity in taste and appearance than hybrids, but they also value being able to save seeds that come back next season true to type. “They want to be independent…They don’t like the big boys,” says Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds owner Jere Gettle.
Ultimately, the proof of a seed is in the sowing (as well as the eating!), which means even the most casual gardeners have a valuable opinion to offer about the success of different types of seeds in their region. Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners is a free tool that allows gardeners to review varieties they have grown, as well as to read variety reviews from the site’s over 5,000 registered users. The 6000+ varieties featured on the site run the gamut from heirlooms to hybrids.
We’d be curious to hear where you weigh in on the heirlooms vs. hybrids debate; feel free to comment on this article or on the Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners Facebook group’s wall.
Dec 01 2010
This article explores common sources of soil contamination in garden soils, and provides information to help gardeners determine if their site may be at risk of having excessive levels of contaminants. For gardening sites that fall under the common risk factors, the article provides information about soil testing and low cost methods for growing food safely despite soil contamination.