One of the most compelling reasons for growing your own fruit and vegetables is that you can use open-pollinated seed. An open pollinated seed can be saved from the new plant and used in the next season. Whether it is an heirloom variety (a subgroup of open-pollinated) or not is inconsequential. Open-pollinated seed has not had its genes tampered with. In modern hybridization, the producers combine two very different parent plants to produce a new variety of plant. This new plant is developed for high production and at a high cost. Hybrid seed companies recover the cost of development by selling you the seeds year after year — you cannot save hybrid seed and grow a plant like your did in the first season.
There are other reasons not to buy hybrid seeds. They lack the flavor of the original non-hybrid counterpart, they require fertilizer to obtain the high yields of produce, they tend to drink much more water, they are more susceptible to insect attack needing a pesticide cure, and they will produce no seed or seed that nothing like its hybrid parent.
Even some of the most favored seed vendors of organic seed sell both hybrid and open-pollinated seed. It’s too easy to be sucked in by the super sales copy that accompanies the hybrids. Look for (F1). If that symbol is in the description of any seed, pass it by. It is a hybrid. Open pollinated seed has (OP) somewhere in the description. When you see this sign, that is your sign to seriously ponder and pick. If a seed is labeled “heirloom” it should also be open-pollinated.
My bias toward open-pollinated is quite apparent here. As people who love soil, gardening, and fresh food, I believe we have a responsibility and a major opportunity to preserve what has fed civilizations for more centuries than we know.
For more information on seeds, check out the resources at Back Woods Home.
For seed catalogs, visit Victory Seeds and Sustainable Seed Company. When you drill down in the individual vegetables at Sustainable Seed Company, you get information like which states are recommending this one from their Extension offices. This is a great site. I hope to visit the operation one of these days.
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