Onward Garden Soldiers, It’s time to learn about seeds! Now that you’ve ordered those seed catalogs, you’ll start to run into terminology for different varieties of seeds. The most common that you will run into are heirloom and hybrid.
Heirloom varieties are seeds that have been saved and passed down from generation to generation. Seeds that have been saved well over 50 to hundreds of years. These are the thousands of plant varieties that our fore fathers used to nourish our tables and saved the seeds to plant the following year. These varieties have better flavor, are hardier and have more flexibility than hybrid varieties. Breeders cannot manipulate complex characteristics such as flavor as easily as they can size and shape. Heirloom seeds are also Open Pollinated, (OP). This means that the plant is capable of producing seeds that will produce seedlings just like the parent plant.
Hybrid (usually having the symbol F1 or F2 beside the variety name)
A hybrid is a plant that has been cross pollinated by two different plants in order to create the best features from each “parent” plant. A hybrid seed is not “bad” and can produce a desirable crop. They are bred to have a variety of traits from disease resistance, early maturation, flavor, productivity, etc..
Cross pollination happens in nature
This is exactly how so many different varieties of vegetables came to be. They cross pollinated and through nature became naturally more resistant to diseases and fungus. They grew stronger, better tasting fruit, and eventually stabilized to become it’s own variety.
Another difference you want to keep in mind when purchasing your seeds is whether you are intending on saving the seeds.
Since this will be my first year I intend to save seeds, I will need to make sure and buy Heirloom varieties. These seeds will produce the exact same plant as the generation before. Hybrid plants will not. It’s not known which trait will be more dominant until the seed is grown out and it’s next generation of seeds may be sterile or inferior. So if your plan is to save seeds, then by all means by Heirloom. (Later in this series we will also discuss the possibility of cross pollinating and how to strategically plant different varieties of vegetables to prevent this.)
Genetically Modified Seeds
One thing to remember, hybrid plants are NOT genetically modified or GMO seeds. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) can be any plant, animal or microorganism which have been genetically altered using molecular genetics techniques such as gene cloning and protein engineering. Thanks to one of my new blogging friends, Diana (yes, we have the same name, lol!) she did let me know that GMO’s are in vegetable seeds. As I get more info on this, I’ll dedicate a post to this very subject!! So I would now definitely recommend to buying Heirloom and Organic variety of seeds.
Why buy organic seeds? If you grow them organically won’t they be organic?
Many conventional seeds are sprayed with anti fungals and pesticides. You can definitely buy non organic, non GMO, untreated seeds. However, By buying organic you are not only supporting a movement but also being assured that the seed will take on stronger traits usually in flavor and hardiness.
*Tip – When you buy your seeds, save what you don’t use in the freezer. They should keep for about 3 years.
Now that you’ve learned about what types of seeds are out there, it’s time to start planning when to start our seeds. Next week we’ll learn about zones and a spring planting calendar. This will allow us to plan when to start planting our seeds to ensure we have them outside according to which zone we live in.
Until next week garden soldiers!
Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave and Kelly the Kitchen Kop.