Kentucky Heritage Cultivars for the Vegetable Garden

For many growers, the choice between hybrid and heirloom seeds can be a difficult one. Though hybrid cultivars do have their advantages, heirloom seeds allow us to save and grow the same varieties for generations. In doing so, many vegetable and flower types become much more adapted to growth within specific regions over time. 

Heritage Vegetable Plants in Kentucky

I’ve found that focusing on well-adapted heirlooms has increased yields as and fostered a sense of heritage in my growing space. 

When I planned my first garden, my focus on sustainability allowed me to begin collecting a multitude of heirloom seed varieties. Since these plants would grow true to type, I knew that I could save and increase the planting size of my garden from one season to the next. Over time, I developed an affinity for collecting cultivars which had specifically been collected from Kentucky. 

It would only make sense that plant types bred in the state could potentially demonstrate tolerance and resistance to conditions in my own garden. Let’s take a closer look at some of my Kentucky heritage vegetable plants.  

  • Kentucky Beefsteak Tomato – An heirloom tomato variety from eastern Kentucky, this cultivar is prized for its large yellow fruits. Ranging in size up to 2 pounds (907 g.), these beefsteak tomatoes are of especially low acidity. Their subtle taste makes them an excellent choice for fresh eating or use in salads. 
  • Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean – Also known as the ‘Old Homestead’ pole bean, ‘Kentucky Wonder’ beans are known for their long and productive vines. Vines bear a profusion of white flowers which are followed by beans reaching lengths of up to 8 inches (20 cm). 
  • Daymon Morgan’s Kentucky Butcher Dent Corn – Though many home gardeners do not grow dent corn, this beautiful heirloom may change their minds. Reaching heights of 18 feet (6 m.), I had originally selected this variety for use as a privacy screen between neighbors. After harvesting enormous, productive cobs, I knew that this cultivar would forever have a home in my vegetable garden. From experience, I have found that this variety yields absolutely wonderful cornmeal. 
  • Dickinson Pumpkin – Originating in Kentucky, this variety is a productive moschata type of winter squash. Due to this, it naturally demonstrates resistance to regional disease and insect pressure. This is especially important in the home garden, as pests like the squash vine borer, can destroy entire plantings. In addition to their ease of growth, these pumpkin vines produce high yields which keep well into the winter months.

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