Whether you are planting seeds directly into your garden or starting your seeds early you will have to decide whether you want hybrid seeds or heirloom seeds. Organic is another choice but the first decision will be heirloom or hybrid seeds. What’s the difference?
An heirloom seed is a seed that can be traced back at least 50 years. They have a history of being passed down within a family. They reproduce through pollination. They are considered true plants because they’re exactly the same as their parent plants. Heirloom vegetables are chosen for flavor. They’re not generally as “uniform” as hybrid fruits, nor are they as predictable. They haven’t been bred, but chosen; gardeners will choose their best fruits and harvest the seeds from them.
A hybrid seed is a seed that has been “bred” and grown specifically to aid in their production and resistance to disease. They are made by breeding two different plants together to get a third variety – the hybrid.
Although a hybrid plant produces a more dependable and uniform harvest, sometimes taste has been sacrificed (they were originally bred for commercial growers, more fruit, longer storage etc.), so profit was more of a concern than taste.
Another problem with them is that most hybrid seed from the vegetables you grow will be sterile; this means you can’t save the seeds. If they aren’t sterile, however and you can get one to grown you have no guarantees what kind of plant you’re going to get because they aren’t the exact replicas of their parents. Seed companies love to sell hybrids because it is much more profitable. You have to keep buying your seeds from them year after year!
Using heirloom seeds gives you the option to save your own seeds and plant year-to-year. This is a great way to save money. I’ll talk more about this at the end of our garden season.
I grow both hybrid and heirloom seeds in my garden. There are some hybrid varieties that do so well that I grow them despite the fact that I can’t save the seeds. Whatever you decide enjoy your time in the garden!