Heirloom vegetables belong to a special class of plants. The term, “heirloom” – or Heritage Plant as it is also known – refers to open-pollinated varieties of vegetables and fruits that have been around for at least 50 years (before commercial hybrids came along).
There are many benefits to choosing heirlooms in the vegetable garden. They have outstanding taste, interesting shapes and colors and grow better than just about any other vegetable or herb. Plus, they are pretty easy to grow and are certain to always be around.
6 Best Favorite Heirloom Vegetables
1. Amana Orange Tomato
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Amana Orange is a beefsteak tomato that has very few seeds. Its rich, classic tomato flavor is perfect for eating raw, sliced thick with salt and pepper, or on sandwiches or burgers. Its lovely, bright orange color will surprise your backyard barbecue guests this summer. Amana Orange tomato plants are indeterminant and come originally from the State of Iowa.
2. Banana Leggs Tomato
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Children love the name of Banana Leggs, a yellow, oblong-shaped paste tomato. The fruit resembles a banana and sometimes has some light green striping. This variety has a sweet flavor and meaty texture and is excellent for making sauce. These determinant plants are extremely prolific and the pretty leaves are lacy.
3. Grey Zucchini
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One of the most prolific plants in the garden, Grey Zucchini bear beautiful fruit on a uniquely textured and variegated plant. The leaves of this plant exhibit a unique grey, stripe pattern. It is a good idea to plant more than one Grey Zucchini to be certain of pollination, although this plant may be cross-pollinated if other squash plants are nearby in the garden. Fruits should be harvested continuously in order to encourage the plant to continue producing new blooms.
4. Long Island Cheese Squash
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This pumpkin-style squash is one of the most beautiful heritage varieties available to gardeners today. Although it starts out dark green, the fruit ripens to a lovely rusty orange color. It is extremely decorative, perfect for adorning your front porch in autumn. The flesh of this squash is sweet, terrific for cooking that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. 10-pound fruits are ready to be harvested in about 105 days.
5. Paul Robeson Tomato
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Paul Robeson is a black tomato. The flavor of the large fruit of this tomato is beyond compare. The fruit is deep red in color, sometimes with green shoulders. These tomatoes are dark in color and very rich in flavor. They are excellent for canning, or for eating in salads. The plants are indeterminant and originated in Russia.
6. “Purple Queen” Bush Bean
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Beautiful, slender, 6-inch beans grow bountifully on these plants, providing a punch of color to your crop of beans. The flavor is very similar to traditional green beans, with the added bonus of a pale purple bloom. The seeds can be sown directly into the garden as soon as the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. These beans are very tasty eaten straight off the plant, or steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper!