11 Old Time Fruits and Vegetables to Love
Here are eleven delicious vegetables and fruits. Each one is a tried-and-true time-honored heirloom variety – you’ll be glad you made room for them in the garden this year!
1. Yellow Pear Tomato
‘Yellow Pear’ tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Yellow Pear’) plants produce the perfect bite-sized snack with a pleasant mild flavor with natural sweetness.
Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Yellow Pear’
Yellow pear seeds are available from True Leaf Market in packages of one ounce, four ounces and 250 milligrams.
Perfect for zones 6 to 12, this plant prefers to bask in full sun, so provide structural support and see if yours reaches 12 feet in height!
Harvesting is expected to start in about 78 days.
Read our complete guide to growing ‘Yellow Pear’ tomatoes.
2. Lola Rossa Lettuce
Italian ‘Lola Rossa’ lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Lolo Rossa’) is a frilly, red-tipped variety whose loose leaves add a distinctive nutty flavor to salads.
Lactuca sativa ‘Lola Rossa’
‘Lola Rossa’ lettuce seeds (aka ‘Lolo Rosso’) are available from True Leaf Market in two-gram, one-ounce and four-ounce packages. And they’re open pollinated and certified organic.
Grow this plant in full sun to partial shade in Zones 4 to 9. Any hotter and it’s likely to bolt. Matures in about 55 days.
3. Moon and Stars Watermelon
‘Moon & Stars’ watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. ‘Moon & Stars’) is a true taste sensation.
You’d never know to look at it that this dark green, lumpy, bumpy rind with bright yellow patches contains a sweet, bright red watermelon like you haven’t eaten in years.
Citrullus lanatus ‘Moon and Stars’
‘Moon and Stars’ watermelon seeds are available from True Leaf Market in packages of one ounce, four ounces and one pound. They are open pollinated and certified organic.
Grow this beauty in full sun in Zones 3 to 9 and expect to see mature oval or round fruit in about 100 days.
4. Henderson Lima Bean
You can make your own homegrown succotash with these buttery and flavorful beans, and they’re available from True Leaf Market in 20-gram or 1- to 50-pound packages.
Phaseolus lunatus ‘Henderson’
‘Henderson’ lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus ‘Henderson’) do best in zones 3 to 9, and they will need a lot of sunlight. You can expect 60 to 90 days for maturity.
Find tips on growing lima beans here.
5. Brandywine Pink Tomato
Solanum lycopersicum ‘Brandywine Pink’ is one of my favorites. Seeds of this classic heirloom variety are available from True Leaf Market in quarter-, one- and 4-ounce packets.
Solanum lycopersicum ‘Brandywine Pink’
This beefsteak indeterminate variety is known for its delicious flavor, and you can expect ripe fruit that ripens in about 90 days.
Learn more about growing brandywine here.
6. Rainbow Carrot
This rainbow mix of carrot seeds (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) includes a variety of heirlooms so you can enjoy a colorful salad or roasted side dish.
The mixed variety Daucus carota subsp. sativus
Mixed packets of one or four ounces or heavy pounds of ‘Atomic Red,’ ‘Bambino Orange,’ ‘Cosmic Purple,’ ‘Lunar White,’ and ‘Solar Yellow’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
These will reach maturity in about 70 days, and can be grown in a variety of climates in Zones 3 to 11.
Find all our favorite carrot varieties here.
7. Big Jim Peppers
These mildly hot peppers (Capsicum annuum ‘Big Jim’) produce vibrant red fruit in about 75 days or less, and they can be picked early and enjoyed green, or left whole on the plant. may be allowed to ripen.
Capsicum annual ‘Big Jim’
Perfect for eating fresh or drying, you can expect a large harvest with high yields. A variety of seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
8. Blue Hubbard Squash
‘Blue Hubbard’ squash (Cucurbita maxima) has the distinctive orange flesh you’re used to, with an eye-catching blue-gray skin that makes an unusual and attractive addition to the garden.
‘Blue Hubbard’ Cucurbita maxima
They are very sweet, great for purees or pie fillings. You can expect maturity in about 110 days, and the seeds are available from True Leaf Market in various quantities.
9. Purple Orach
This tasty alternative to spinach that grows without complaint in hot climates, purple orach (Atriplex hortensis) makes a colorful addition to salads and sautés in about 40-60 days.
Purple Atriplex Hortensis
It’s easy to grow and also cold-tolerant, giving this leafy vegetable multi-season appeal, and making it a great choice for a wide variety of climates. Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
10. Royal Burgundy Beans
This purple variety of bush beans is resistant to pests and diseases, and harvestable pods can be ready as soon as 50 days after seed is planted.
Phaseolus vulgaris ‘Royal Burgundy’
Phaseolus vulgaris ‘Royal Burgundy’ loves full sun in cooler climates in zones 3 to 9, and seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
Keep in mind that their vibrant color will turn green when ripe, but they’re beautiful on the plant — and they’re delicious in salads, too!
11. Lemon Cucumber
With a round shape and light yellow skins, it’s no surprise that this variety of Cucumis sativus is known as a ‘lemon’.
Cucumis sativus ‘Lemon’
Hardy in Zones 4 to 12, they will grow well in full sun and reach maturity in 60 to 70 days. Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.
a proud legacy
Many people love heirlooms because they taste like the vegetables they grew with their parents or grandparents as kids and harvested from the vegetable pile.
I know you’re eager to try out Legacy!
They are a reminder of a time when families sustained themselves with delicious homegrown produce because it was necessary, not fashionable. And they saved seeds and exchanged them with neighbors for the same reason.
Today, we have the option of planting rare seeds in modern times, a legacy of our horticultural forefathers. Seeds sometimes cost a bit more, but the yields should more than pay for themselves.
Plus, inheritance can be daunting at first. They sometimes grow slightly differently, take up more space, or require more time to grow to maturity than their hybrid cultivar counterparts.
Since they may not have the same disease and pest resistance, you may want to include modern-day varieties in your garden along with the rare ones to ensure bountiful harvests. (Just beware of “tainting” through cross-pollination.)
On the other hand, I’ve pulled some out of seed packets with no pests or diseases. These include the historic ‘Brandywine Yellow’ and ‘Green Zebra’ tomatoes. After all they have stood the test of time.
Invest in a seed packet or two and see what develops. Once you taste the fruits of your labor, you’ll be addicted!
For more information on giving your seeds a good start early in the season, we suggest reading our article on starting annuals from seed indoors.
What are some of your favorite heirlooms to display in the garden, and what are you considering adding to your veggie patch or raised beds this year? Let us know in the comments section below!
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© Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Mike Quinn on September 7, 2014. Last updated on May 30, 2018. Product photos via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.