How to Grow Heirloom Vegetables


Heirloom seeds are seeds of varieties that have been grown for a long time, often hundreds of years. Older, traditional varieties of vegetables have different tastes and textures to modern versions. Many heirloom varieties are more hardy than moderns, but may not be as productive. Modern varieties are often optimized for modern fertilizers for high productivity. Growing heirloom vegetables helps keep genetic diversity in seed stocks healthy and gives you unusual flavor.

Step 1

Prepare your garden bed by turning the top 18 inches of soil using a shovel.

Step 2

Break up the soil with a shovel and hoe until your largest clump of soil is about 1/4 inch in diameter.

Step 3

Prepare your garden rows according to the growth pattern of the vegetables you will be planting. For example, allow plenty of space for cucumbers, but allow less space for plants like tomatoes that will be staked. Follow planting directions on the heirloom seed packets.

Step 4

Apply organic fertilizer. Traditional fertilizers include dried or composted cow or horse manure or any compost. Work this into the soil.

Step 5

Plant your seeds. If your packets don't give planting depths, plant the seed about twice as deep as it is wide. For example, if your seed is 1/16 inch long, plant it 1/8 inch deep.

Step 6

Apply between 1/2 and 2 inches of mulch to your rows to keep the water from washing away cover soil or seeds.

Step 7

Water your newly planted garden gently, but thoroughly. Water regularly to prevent the soil from drying out and damaging the germinating seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Heirloom seeds
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Water


  • The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener's Assistant: Heirloom Vegetable Sampler
  • Amish Land: Heirloom Seeds
  • Vegetable Seeds: Heirloom Vegetables

Who Can Help

  • Vegetable Seeds: Heirloom Vegetable Seeds
Keywords: heirlom vegetables, organic gardening, sustainable gardening

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.