Last weekend saw a celebration of old cultivars and varieties of both fruit and vegetables. At Diggers Heronswood, Dromana it has been the Harvest Festival Weekend with a really beautiful array of pumpkins and squashes, garlic for sale and tomatoes to taste. Nearly all of these are heirloom or open pollinated varieties that are so important both for our gardening history and our future. Heirloom and heritage varieties are an integral part of organic gardening, many are the result of selective breeding over numerous generations so that they show special characteristics.
At Petty’s Orchard they held the Heritage Apple Day with over 100 varieties of apples to try. From the beautiful sweet dessert apples like Cox’s Orange Pippen to the more tart but sublime when cooked Edward VII (a late season English cooking apple first recorded in 1902) , and even cider apples like Dabinett, an old Somerset cider apple producing bittersweet cider.
Such a rich panoply of tastes and textures, colours and scents. So much to loose if we don’t make an effort to preserve our heritage of varieties. So what can we all do? It’s pretty simple really, support the organizations and companies that sell these precious seed and grow unusual varieties of vegetables and fruit. Grow these vegetables and harvest and store our own seed, that way we help to preserve genetic diversity for future generations. Volunteer for the organizations that keep these fruit going, like the Heritage Fruits Society — PW