Anyone planting an edible garden can get entangled in terminology. Words like heirloom and hybrid, self-pollinated and open-pollinated, will keep popping up. The first pair describes a plant’s purity while the latter pertain to how pollen is transferred from a male flower a female flower’s stigma. A transfer that’s needed to make fruit. There’s more to the story, of course. And the experts at Manda’s Plant Farm in Canal Fulton, Ohio have all of the details. They also have a tip for gardeners in places like Canton, Ohio and North Canton, Ohio who want to grow heirloom tomatoes: plant open-pollinated plants!
Our explanation of the terms used to describe plant varieties will center on heirloom tomatoes. Why? Because a growing number of people are choosing to grow heirloom tomatoes. And based on the following questions from tomato seed shoppers at Manda’s Plant Farm in Canal Fulton, there’s a bit of mystery surrounding these edible garden stars.
What Makes a Tomato an Heirloom?
While tomatoes are the most common heirloom plants to be found in an edible garden, they’re not the only plants to bear the distinguished title. Peppers, squash, strawberries, asparagus and virtually all other plants are available in heirloom varieties. And that’s because the term heirloom simply means that there has been no cross pollination for at least 40 years. This is why heirloom plants are considered pure plants. Unlike hybrids which are unique results of natural or deliberate cross pollination.
Is it Difficult to Grow Heirloom Tomatoes?
Absolutely not! Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated plants. That means wind, insects or even a subtle one-hand shake from a gardener like you can cause the needed transfer of pollen we mentioned earlier. Their categorical counterparts, self-pollinated plants, don’t need the transfer because both the pollen and stigma are present in each flower.
Now, before you consider bumping open-pollinated heirloom tomatoes and selecting something self-pollinated and seemingly easier for your edible garden in Canton or North Canton, know this: When you plant open-pollinated plants, it is possible for male and female flowers to appear on the same plant. This places pollen’s source and destination so close together until a properly pollinated stigma is practically a given. And you can always give your plants a shake to make sure!
So, head to Manda’s Plant Farm and pick up your edible garden seeds today. You can also get tips on how to plant open-pollinated plants and grow heirloom tomatoes while you’re there. Seeking a specific variety of heirloom tomatoes? Call the farm at 330.854.2637. The seasoned growing team has been providing products and sharing input with gardeners from in and around Canton, Ohio and North Canton, Ohio for years. They’ll be happy to help you get growing too!
Manda’s Plant Farm
6390 Erie Ave NW
Canal Fulton, Ohio 44614