by saving seed or vegetatively propagating plants that have
specific characteristics -- for
example, better taste, higher yields, disease resistance, tolerance for local weather conditions.
Eventually a variety results that consistently exhibits the desired
characteristics, and seed for this variety is cherished, grown, and shared, often
Typically, heirloom plants are not the crops of large scale agriculture,
such as wheat or barley, but are grown on a smaller scale, in gardens.
In part this is because such plants are often suited to very local
conditions. When sampling heirloom plants for your own garden, it is
often a good idea to look at plants grown under similar conditions to
those those in your area -- humidity, soil type, temperature ranges, and