For the novice gardener, buying seeds to start garden can be quite overwhelming. There are so many to choose from. Here is a quick overview of same basic differences.
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These seeds are produced from two plants of the same variety and were pollinated naturally by bees, butterflies, etc. They will produce plants that are “true-to-type”. The new generation will be similar to the parents.
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Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated seeds that are over 50 years old. They are pedigree seeds. Years ago, seeds were kept from the better performing plants. When re-planted, the new plants carried on the good traits of their parents and so their seeds were kept. Now there is a lineage of “good seeds”.
Hybrids are a human developed cross between two or more genetically different plants of the same species. They have been modified to be hardier, produce seedless fruits, be pest resistant, etc. Hybrid seeds usually have a better shelf life than heirloom seeds and produce a more uniform crop. Sounds great, right? While they are great for starting a successful garden, as always, human interference with nature has a downside.
When people begin to use hybrid seeds instead of open-pollinated seeds then we lose garden diversity. Its the naturally occurring diversity in the other plants that allows for certain seeds and plants to be immune to diseases. Also, if you grow a hybrid and want to save and replant the seeds- they are often sterile. If you get one to regrow, it will not resemble the parent plant. It will have its own characteristics or revert back to one of the parent plants from which the hybrid was created.