Heirloom Vegetables – My Great Grandmother’s Beans

Gardeners often hear the word “heirloom” when talking about seeds for vegetables.  Basically heirloom vegetables and plants are those grown from seed which is saved from early varieties of the plant.  They always remain true to the original plant.

These beans are growing from heirloom seeds passed down from my great grandmother's garden.

Heirloom Vegetables Like These Take on a Very Special Meaning.

Many of these seeds are passed down from one generation to the next by children and other relatives.  Modern day seeds often are hybrid seeds which are bred for particular characteristics.  One can plant the seeds from the resulting vegetables and they will grow, but the next generation can be quite different.

My great grandmother “Grammie Gagne” was born in the late 1800s and was an avid gardener. She had a wonderful vegetable garden and the seeds from her pole beans have been passed down through our family for several generations.

Heirloom pole beans - A family's history in the garden. My grandmother “Mimi” saved the seeds from her pole beans and planted them.  My mother did the same.  My brother in law, Brian, and sister, Judy, both grow beans from seeds that originated with the plants from my relatives.

When I visited my family in Maine this summer, I asked Brian if he had any seeds left over this year.  Luckily he did.  I planted them when I returned from my vacation in August and have been waiting with fingers crossed in the hope that I would also get some plants that would be the same as my great grandmothers.

I went out to harvest today and was just delighted to discover that they are just starting to bear beans.  The earliest frost here in NC is late October, so I should be able to get quite a few meals from them.

Here is a story in pictures of my great grandmother’s beans:

heirloom vegetables

Early August.

heirloom vegetables

Two weeks later

heirloom vegetables

A few weeks ago

heirloom vegetables

Last week

heirloom plants

Today’s harvest.

The yellow beans are from my great grandmother’s heirloom pole beans.   I still have some of my brother in law’s seeds from this year in the refrigerator.  They should still be good next year.  I will also be sure to keep some of the seeds from this year’s beans.

My mother also gave me a baggie of seeds that she had saved, but she kept them in a drawer in her kitchen for several years and only a couple of them sprouted.  My brother in law had his refrigerated and they sprouted beautifully.

It is a very emotional day for me, thinking back to my very early years in my great grandmother’s garden and knowing that it is living on in my garden.

Have you grown plants from the seeds of heirloom vegetables or flowers that someone in your family started?  I would love for you to share your experience in the comment section below.

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