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Plants Have Stories Too

At Peterson Garden Project we love stories. We’ve told our own origin story so many times most of us can recite it in our sleep. It’s been told so often that we’ve even heard a fairly mythologized version of it that attributes our founding to people we’ve never even heard of.

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Stories are an important factor in edible gardening. LaManda’s stories about learning to garden from her parents and how she bought her house based on the size and sunniness of the yard (a “yard with a house” rather than a “house with a yard”). Breanne’s tales of her family’s maple syrup business, Maribeth’s chickens, Leah’s seeds.

When you go to your local garden center or Big Box, you’ll find some stories there too, as heirloom varieties, usually tomatoes. But mostly the garden centers stock hybrids.

We’ve got nothing particularly against garden hybrids. When people bemoan hybrids, they’re often thinking of the grocery-store tomatoes that have been developed more for durability than for flavor. Hybrids that have been developed for backyard gardens have qualities that backyard gardeners prize, like early or high yield, large fruits, or pest resistance to name a few.

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But heirlooms come with stories. Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter was developed for size and yield; it was so successful it paid off Charlie’s mortgage.

Cherokee Purples were supposedly developed from seeds given to a settler family way-back-when by the local Cherokee tribe.

Aunt Ruby’s German Green really was developed by Aunt Ruby, a prolific developer of great tomatoes and other vegetables. (You’ll find a lot of common and unusual heirloom plant at our plant sale).

Gardeners write new stories every day. What’s yours?