As I browse through my seed catalogs, I can’t help but notice that the number of seed varieties for most plants are downright overwhelming. And so is the advice about which ones to plant in different parts of the country. Every producer has a different recommendation and, unfortunately, none of them live in my area. Any variety of plant will react differently when its growing conditions change. Soil structure and fertility, sun exposure, heat, cold and water all impact the plant’s growth and production. Even within the same growing zones in the same state, results can vary. So how do I know which seed will perform best for me?
I’ve read several articles lately about “landrace” vegetables, and I think I’ll give it a try. The concept makes sense, really. It’s sort of a “survival of the fittest” exercise. So this year I’m going to choose several heirloom varieties that are reported to do well in my climate zone, save the cross-pollinated seeds from the ones I like best, and plant that group the next year. Then repeat the process indefinitely. From what I’m reading, the result will be a vegetable that’s best suited to my needs and my own little corner of the world. And since ” global weirding” seems to be the new weather pattern, having a genetically diverse crop that will be able to thrive, regardless what Mother Nature decides to throw at it, sounds like a good idea as well.
I’m sure a landrace vegetable probably wouldn’t be appealing to everyone. And I can understand why someone who is selling their crop at market would want all their product to be uniform for their customers. But for those of us who are growing in small gardens for our own tables, it sounds perfect.