Gardens For Tiny Houses: Part 3

luther_burbankMulti-colored heirloom tomatoes, now sold in farmer’s markets and upscale grocery stores, are gaining favor among consumers weary of tasteless imposters, hybridized and genetically modified, to withstand the rigors of mechanized harvest and cross-country shipping. Your decision to plant open pollinated heirloom seeds in your tiny house garden will bring more flavor to your table, as well.

For most of human history, all seeds were open pollinated. That changed when Gregor Mendel and Luther Burbank began to create hybrid varieties, by crossing the genes of one plant variety with the genes of another.

As hybrid seeds gained popularity, open pollinated, heirloom seeds fell out of favor. Many heirloom seed companies were forced out of business and many varieties became extinct. Because F1 hybrids revert to the characteristics of the parents from which they originate, growers found it necessary to purchase new seeds year after year, rather than save their own.

The trend continued away from heirloom seeds when President Hoover signed into law, the Plant Patent Act of 1930. No doubt, this legislation helped pave the way for multi-national corporations to patent today’s GMO’s {genetically modified organisms}, in which DNA strands from unrelated species of plant and animal life are spliced into vegetable seeds and grains alike.

Even without consideration for possible consequences that GMO’s may have on the humans and animals which consume them, experts warn that the loss of genetic seed diversity could be catastrophic down the road. One need only consider the Irish Potato Famine, during the 1840’s, as an example of what can happen in the loss of genetic diversity.

In recent years, forward thinking individuals began to gather, propagate, and sell open pollinated, heirloom seeds in an effort to preserve the heritage seeds that remain. Two of the better known organizations include Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Mansfield, Missouri and Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. To know that you are getting genuine open pollinated heirloom seeds for your tiny house garden, look for seed companies which have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

Your choice to plant and save heirloom seeds in your tiny house garden will help to ensure that open pollinated seeds remain in the hands of people, instead of corporations. Your reward will be better taste, greater nutrition, more variety, and strains which have adapted to your local growing conditions.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia