Buying Garden Seeds
Three Types of Seed
Part 4 of 4
Three types of seeds…
At times, this can be a subject to debate, here we will just cover what each label means and let you decide what is best for you and your garden.
As opposed to heirloom seeds, hybrids are created by crossing two varieties that are selected for certain, desirable characteristics, such as larger fruit, or longer shelf-life.
Hybrid seeds are labeled as F1 types, whereas open-pollinated varieties will be labeled OP.
Features of hybrids include:
- disease resistance
- faster maturity
- improved flavor
- increased productivity – higher yield
- uniform growth
- easier to ship and store
The downside is that while you can save seeds, they will not be “true-to-type” as open-pollinated seeds are. Sometimes the seeds will not be viable, other times, the plant will revert back to just one characteristic of the parent plant. In other words, saving seeds and replanting them is unreliable at best.
Genetically modified seeds
A definite no-no in the backyard garden is GM seeds, or BE bio-engineered seeds.
These seeds are created by man, in a laboratory, rather than nature. Unlike hybrids which are crossed between two closely related plants to create one superior one, GMOs take genes from different “kingdoms” and splice them together. For health reasons of your own and how dangerous they are to insects (whose populations happen to be declining), you should decline them too.
You won’t typically find garden seeds in this category, however, if you are planting crops for raising and feeding animals, you need to be aware. Particularly if you are intending to grow corn, sugar beets, potatoes, soybeans, or alfalfa.
Keep an eye out for pink peas, green cucumber seeds, or blue sunflower seeds!
They are treated with a fungicide that protects them from seed-borne and soil-borne pathogens, but they come with a heavy price to your soil and all the organisms living in it.
You don’t need those toxic chemicals to grow good food!
Start with good quality seeds, plant them at the optimal time (when the soil temperature is just right), and offer the best care you can (watering and sunlight) as your garden grows. Ultimately, what you decide to plant, comes down to your values and preferences, and this may change as your gardening skills grow.
An excerpt from Buying Garden Seeds: Everything You Need to Know, Rural Sprout.