Heirloom vegetable varieties are older varieties that haven't been hybridized for commercial production. Commercial growers hybridized and engineered vegetables that were easier to transport and had longer shelf lives. These modern vegetables often look and taste different than older heirloom varieties. These vegetables were likely similar varieties to those your grandparents or great-grandparents grew in gardens and on farms. There are many varieties of heirloom seeds available for many different types of vegetables.
Seeds for heirloom tomatoes can include varieties that are green, purple, pink and red when ripe. These heirloom varieties often have deep ridges instead of a single, smooth rounded surface. The Amana Orange variety is an orange, flattened fruit that averages 5 inches in diameter. It looks somewhat like a small pumpkin in shape and color. Aunt Ruby's German Green tomatoes are a green heirloom that produces 4-inch fruits that ripen to a khaki green. Heirloom seeds are often available from specialty shops of through seed sharing organizations, like the Seed Savers Exchange.
Heirloom peppers can range from sweet bell peppers that are unusual colors and shapes to peppers like the Bulgarian Carrot, which is an orange, carrot shaped pepper. Colors range from green, yellow or orange to red or even brown. The heirloom variety Aji Panca is an unusual, glossy-skinned brown pepper. Other heirloom varieties with seed stock that are in some seed exchanges include the Black Hungarian, multicolored Candlelight Pepper and the long, orange Fatali.
Melons are also common in many heirloom seed exchanges. Heirloom melons that grow well from seed include the visually interesting Prescott Fond, which has sweet fragrant flesh, in spite of its mottled, lumpy, skin. The Green Nutmeg melon dates to 1863 and, in spite of its sweet flesh, looks like a giant nutmeg seed. Other heirloom varieties of melons for which seeds are commonly available include Aphrodite, and the Cushaw melon. The Cushaw are large melons with yellow and green stripes. Their flesh is pale yellow and sweet.