Winter is a good time to sit down and decide which seeds you may need to order for your next year's planting. Check through any seeds you have collected this year and last year and see where there are gaps and what else you may like to include in your garden. Make lists, taking advice from other gardeners and thinking carefully about what will grow well in your area. Once you have your list of seeds to buy for 2018, it is time to get shopping. While there are certain advantages to hybrid seeds, here are some reasons why you should pick heritage seeds for your polytunnel:
Commercially, only very few seed varieties are grown. Unfortunately, many seeds that used to be grown on a commercial basis or which were commonly available to home growers for their kitchen gardens have died out, or are seriously rare. This is a problem because by losing our diversity, we are also losing our resilience against climate change, pests and diseases. By choosing heritage seeds and saving seeds for future, you can help to save our crop diversity and help make sure we can all continue to eat fresh, healthy, wholesome food in the future.
The variety is also appealing to polytunnel gardeners because rather than just offering yields that are as high as possible (like many commercially available hybrid seeds), heritage seeds come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colours, textures and tastes – many heritage varieties have also been shown to have higher nutritional value than mainstream hybrid options!
Another of the good things about heritage seeds, or heirloom seeds as they are sometimes known, is that they will come true from seed, so you can save your own seed to sow next year from this year's crops. This will not only save money, over time it can also lead to plants that are better suited for the specific conditions where you live. They will also help you to become more self-reliant and to create a garden that is sustainable and can endure for years to come.
There is a sense of legacy, of history with heritage seeds that is also very appealing. They link modern day polytunnel gardeners with Victorians in their kitchen gardens and sometimes other gardeners stretching even further back in time. As you plant your seeds, it is fun to imagine what those gardeners would have made of our modern world.