Heirlooms: Accession cards and other data

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Based on both the recent beans RR and other inputs, one lesson many heirlooms collectors haven't learned is the importance of accession information. And, while necessary for all heirlooms, it's particularly important for family heirlooms and landraces. We want to save the information about these varieties, as well as the varieties themselves.

What's important? Not everybody keeps the same information. But at a minimum, here's what should go on your card:

Name of variety. Scientific name. The date you obtained it. Who you obtained if from. Any known history (documentable and anecdotal), and a summary of your own grow-out history with that variety.

How you keep this information is up to you. I actually use 4 x 6 index cards. I know one seed saver who uses 81/2 x 11 paper, 3-hole punched, and who includes a photo of the plant---a really nice idea, because it helps record what "true to type means." These sheets are kept in a loose leaf binder, indexed by plant families.

When trading heirlooms, as much of this information as possible should be shared. On the seed envelope, the _minimum_ information you should include is: Name of variety, scientific name, where you got it, and the date the seed was grown out. Your own name, address, and, if you want, email address _must_ be put on the envelope, or else the recipient won't know who it came from. Naturally, the more information you share the better.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I keep a large photo album with the sticky sheets that peel up to let you place papers or photos underneath.This way ,I can keep an index card of my source,scientific name and such data right next to photographs of the plant,flowers,fruit,or ...whatever. It's sort of like scrapbooking for heirloom gardeners. I've even placed articles and recipes from newspapers and magazines here.

This works well for anyone selling seedlings as you can show the customer pictures.I've found that pictures are the best asset one can have in this sort of venture.The public is timid about buying something unfamiliar if they can't see it.

Whatever system that you choose,choose one and do it. It's great that so many of you are asking about heirlooms and wanting to try them,but you must be responsible and document your source and growing history.All the gardening effort in the world is useless if you do not follow up your efforts with proper documentation. It only takes a few minutes and can be priceless.

Another item that needs to be addressed and you'll find that it is one of mine and Brook's 'pet peeves' is _please_ put your names on your seed packages.Just get a package of address labels,or make some on your computer and stick one to each envelope. If you make 5 trades one week and get 10 packs of seed ,then you get busy.What are you going to do when you've torn open the envelpoes and mixed everything together before you log it in??? You'll be guessing where they all came from and the history will be lost.You can guess and get most of them right,but there will be that uncomfortable feeling that you guessed wrong. Been there, done that, folks..and it's not a good feeling. This is grief that can be avoided if the senders will label their trades with their name.

So many people are getting into heirlooms and they have no idea that the sources and /or histories are as important as the seeds.I can include a photo of my source and place the story behind the seeds that I get right there with my techinical data.This way if anyone cares to read about the Adair Family who gave me the Whippoorwill Peas,the whole story is right there along with pictures of the vines.
When I pass my seeds to someone else in the far distant future(I hope) They will have a complete history of what I've grown and all of the information in one handy location.This will aid them in keeping the stories alive.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Something you touch on that should be stressed, Mel, is the idea of photos.

I've only recently begun documenting heirlooms with photos. And I can't express enough how much of this is needed. And how much I regret not thinking to do this sooner.

Jeff Nekola, as you know, has this large library of pepper images (he grows upwards of 130 varieties a year). Invaluable when it comes to helping determine what true-to-type means. Especially with peppers, which have been crossed so much that as much as 80% of them may be genetically impure.

Nothing like comparing a photo to what you have to see if they are, indeed, the same.



Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Thank you Melody and Brook for starting some more chatter on this subject. As you both know, I'm just learning and I love to read and learn from the chatter. You both were so kind to send me seeds, and I'm reading, reading, reading. I am going to do this, and I'm going to do it right.

You've both been lots of help. Thank you!
Joan

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Aw, gee, shucks. Yer gonna make me blush.

I can't speak for Melody, Joan, but me, I'm just returning it forward, as they say.

I remember when I first started growing heirlooms, and all the folks who were helpful to me with information, seeds and equipment. So I try and pass it on, is all.

There are quite a few serious heirloom collectors here at DG, so you'll find yourself in good company. And you've already learned the most important lesson: don't be afraid to ask questions.

Spicewood, TX(Zone 8b)

TOTALLY agree with the importance of keeping histories and pictures of your heirlooms. Not only does it keep the story going, but if yours end up being not true-to-type you can contact your source and they can contact theirs, etc., etc., to get them out of circulation or clarify the strain with an added name (i.e., Brandywine tomaotes, Sudduth's strain).

I get these great seed envelopes from Cambridge Pacific ( http://www.cpacific.com ~ not a lot of product info there, but contact info is there). They're about 3"x4.5" and just like the ones you buy your seeds in, but unprinted plain white ~ about $40 for 1,000 gummed closures (like bank statements), coated (shiny so water runs off) and shipped; probably $15 less if you don't get the coating or gumming. These are GREAT for printing info on ~ if you print on the back, too, there's enough room to get growing info, history, your contact info AND a picture. They go through my HP printer just fine with one getting stuck only every now and again. I just print up a bunch of each type and have them on hand when the seeds are ready to be packaged. SO handy for all involved. Once you set up the print document (i.e., the info and pic you want printed on them), it's just a matter of running them through the printer ~ I did probably 50 of 20 different types in a day last year, including writing the print documents. And they look SO nice! :-)

Houston, TX(Zone 9b)

does anyone know where I can buy whippoorwill pea plants or seed? i grew up in Louisiana and my parents used to grow them and they were my favorite peas. Can't find them anywhere now . . .

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