AS gardeners stock up on heirloom seeds for spring, Rob Johnston, the chairman of Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Me., would like to suggest an accessory. Why not buckle up in a 1936 Oldsmobile coupe?
O.K., so it doesn’t have seat belts. But the swoop of the fenders resembles Joan Crawford’s eyebrows. Better yet, the rest of the Oldsmobile’s curves are all Lana Turner.
And the technology! Where else can today’s driver find such innovations as knee-action wheels and a solid steel “turret top”?
But even with all that a ’36 Olds has going for it, Mr. Johnston, 60, said, “I’m not sure how big of a market there would be” for 75-year-old cars. “It would just be a sentimental business.”
So to return to Mr. Johnston’s own business, vegetable seeds, why is the backyard gardener buying so many 1936-era heirlooms?
Mr. Johnston, it should be noted, is a fan of heirlooms, which, in the broadest sense, are old varieties of “open pollinated” seeds that will grow the same plant again.
But he argues that his typical customers — small market farmers and avid home gardeners — have better choices. Modern seeds, which are generally hybrid crosses, produce a “more vigorous plant, better resistance to diseases,” he said.
And here’s the heirloom heresy: they often taste better, too. Continue reading