If you are new to gardening there may be many terms that you are uncertain about. One question that I have been asked is-what really is the difference between a Hybrid, Heirloom or Organic seeds?
There are definitely differences so here is the breakdown on each type of seed:
Hybrid seeds are created from cross breeding compatible types of plants in an effort to create a plant with the best features of both parents. They are created at the hand of a man using nature. Most hybrids were actually bred to be grown with chemical fertilizers and herbicides in mind. If you have the desire to save your seeds, hybrids in are the way to go. Hybrid seeds do not always grow back as the hybrid it was intended to be, sometimes they revert back to the characteristics of their parent plant.
Know that cross-pollination can happen in nature all by itself, especially with food crops like cucumbers and corn. If you are planning on planting more than one variety of these plants and saving your seeds, you should try to stagger your planting and plant at different times or in different locations. Tomatoes and peppers are a couple of vegetables that do not cross-pollinate from nature so you can plant as many different varieties as you like.
Heirloom seeds have not been tampered with by man and each seed is in it’s original state changed only by nature itself. Heirlooms are seeds that have been saved and grown for years and then passed down by the gardener that preserved it. It is superior because it has the capability of being saved; all heirloom seed must be open pollinated. Open pollination is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants with its same characteristics.
Organic seeds can be either a Hybrid seed or an Heirloom seed variety. Yes they can be either. Certified Organic Seeds are harvested from certified organic crops whether it is an Heirloom or Hybrid variety. Buying organic seed is important because it guarantees that your seeds will not only be untreated with fungicides, but it also means that you are supporting and encouraging seed farmers to stop using toxic chemicals. An organic seed can not be a GMO-seed.
GMO-seeds are an altogether different seed or crop than the heirloom or the hybrid. GMO’s have been genetically altered using molecular genetic techniques such as gene cloning and protein engineering. Unlike the hybrid plant that has been cross pollinated with another plant, genetically modified science is putting something into the seed that are foreign to it.
Corn is a very common GMO crop that has been introduced a BT which is a bacteria that is put into the seed to help control the corn earworms. Although BT is a natural bacteria, again it is not natural for that bacteria to be in the corn seed. In addition many GMO crops were designed to withstand chemical weed killers. As a result the crop is supposed to be able to withstand the weed killers themselves (inturn we now have a mega crop of super weeds but that is another topic altogether!)
I use Heirloom and Organic seeds in my garden! I want to know that nothing harmful has been put on or into the seeds that will be producing the fruits and vegetables that my family will eat! There are several companies that sell Heirloom an Organic seeds are that wonderful companies to work with! Here is a list of a few of my favorite:
Humbleseed-All the seeds they offer are non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds that are Heirloom or Organic. Right now you can save 10% on your order by using code: TFGM10. They are a great company that offers awesome products with wonderful ethics!
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds-They offer a wide variety of Heirloom seeds, 1400 to be exact. They only offer open-pollinated seeds: pure, natural & non-GMO!
Garden’s Alive!-They offers organic as well as organic hybrid seeds. Right now you can request a catalog that will have a coupon good for $25.00 off a $50.00 purchase.
High Mowing Seeds-They offer over 600 Certified organic seeds. They created the Safe Seed Pledge in 1999 where they affirm their commitment to non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, now there are over 90 members.