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Why You Should Grow Rare and Unusual Heritage Seed Varieties

Why You Should Grow Rare and Unusual Heritage Seed Varieties

One of the benefits of growing a home vegetable garden is the access you gain to a wider variety of crops than you ordinarily would have. When you see something unusual at the farmer’s market, are you tempted to try it? When you find a rare seed variety or an exotic vegetable that has unique characteristics, are you inspired, or turned off because it’s not what you’re used to? Growing seeds that are different from ordinary grocery store varieties has many benefits, both for the home gardener and for the world at large.

Add Some Variety to Your Garden

Exotic Vegetable Seed Collection

If it’s new to you, why not try it out? Unusual plants like lemon cucumber or watermelon radish can make it more interesting to spend time tending your garden, and can get the kids in on the fun, too! They also can inspire you to eat more healthy, fresh vegetables straight from the garden. Delicious Romanesco broccoli, purple kohlrabi, opal basil, and Tendersweet orange watermelon can all be hard to find in the grocery store, but convey unique flavor and nutritional benefits, especially when grown at home.

Slow Food Ark of Taste: Heritage Plants & Seeds

According to the Slow Foods USA website, the Ark of Taste is “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.” They encourage everyone to take action in preserving these wholesome foods in various ways to counter the effects of widescale challenges to biodiversity. In the case of heirloom vegetables and fruits, that includes growing more of them in small-scale, family-based efforts, like your personal survival garden!

At Survival Garden Seeds, the Slow Foods Ark of Taste heritage seeds we carry are excellent choices to plant in your garden. These vegetables might not seem all that rare to some gardeners, but many people only eat the foods they can find at their local box store. Even there, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is dwindling in favor of overly processed junk food with low nutritional value. Currently, we carry the following:

    • Henderson’s Bush Lima Bean - A very early, drought-resistant baby lima bean variety, this is a great choice for survival gardens because it can be eaten fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. It’s also a reliable producer and an excellent source of plant-based protein.
    • Amish Paste Tomato - First cultivated by the Amish community, these large, plum-shaped tomatoes are the perfect blend of acidity and sweetness. They are ideal for sauces and canning because of their meaty texture and robust flavor.
    • Aunt Ruby’s Green Tomato - Spicy, sweet, and large, Aunt Ruby’s Green beefsteak-style tomatoes ripen to a green color with a hint of yellow. They add a refreshing change of pace from the ordinary garden tomato.
    • Cherokee Purple Tomato - When I think of “heirloom vegetables,” Cherokee Purple tomatoes are at the top of the list. These dark tomatoes have a rich, complex flavor that wins every tomato-lover’s heart. Your grandparents may have grown these tomatoes, too. That rich history connects you directly to gardeners of the past.
    • San Marzano Tomato - These Italian tomatoes have thick flesh and very few seeds. They’re low in acid and sweetly flavorful, making them a great choice for sauces and pastes. They’ll add an authentic taste of Italy to your cooking!
    • Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon - I’m from the South, so these represent summer to me. These are the watermelons that the whole Little League team would split after a ball game, with the sticky juice running down chins. Georgia Rattlesnake is a crowd-pleaser, so it’s a good thing these watermelons are so large.
Moon & Stars Watermelon
  • Mary Washington Asparagus - These perennial vegetables last so long after they’re established, providing early spring flavor year after year! They’re reliable and delicious, with high yields of spears to eat fresh, pickle, or freeze.
  • Moon & Stars Watermelon - Here’s a truly rare seed, in my opinion. I have never seen a Moon & Stars Watermelon before my time at Survival Garden Seeds. This watermelon gets its name from the unique rind with yellow markings in starry spots and a larger “moon” shape. It has sweet, pinkish-red flesh with excellent flavor, too. It would be a shame to lose this variety due to a loss of popularity.

Unusual Herbs to Grow

Some highly beneficial herbs may seem weird to you at first but can provide big benefits in the survival garden. Both valerian and mugwort are commonly grown for those who want a natural way to support healthy sleep and lower stress levels. Wormwood, traditionally used in making absinthe, can be used as a digestive tonic. Mullein’s spike of yellow flowers has a striking appearance that may be a little surprising, but we’re sure it’s an herb that will grow on you. It is also enormously beneficial and has been used historically for many purposes, including helping to relieve respiratory complaints.

Add More Variety To Your Garden

Don’t be put off by the fact that you’re adding something new or unusual to your garden. That’s often a good thing! We want to encourage you to branch out of your comfort zone and try new things. You’ll be glad you did.


Watermelon Radishes