Choosing your crops and buying seeds for the upcoming gardening season is always one of the most fun things to do as a gardener.
Buying high-quality seeds is critically important for a healthy organic garden. At The Urban Farm Company we buy over 75% of our seeds from Fedco Seeds and Johnny’s Seeds. There are dozens of great seed companies out there, but we suggest only buying from companies that don’t sell GMO seeds. We suggest buying a mix of hybrid and heirloom varieties.
Open Pollinated plants are simply varieties that produce seeds that grow into seedlings just like the parent plant. Not all plants do this (keep reading).
Heirloom vegetables are open pollinated varieties that have been grown for many, many years (mostly since before World War II) and, therefore, are often more rare varieties in which the seed is passed down year after year through family and community tradition. Heirlooms are the prized garden vegetable because they often taste superior—and look more interesting—than grocery store vegetables.
Hybrid vegetables are created when plant breeders cross breed compatible types of plants in an effort to create a plant with the best features of both parents. These are called hybrids and many of our modern plants are the result of these crosses—in fact, farmers have been doing this for centuries. They are completely safe, and often grow much better than the original species. However, they are not open-pollinated so they produce seeds that are different than the parent plant. Hybrid seeds are indicated by “F1” on the seed pack.
GMO seeds have specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering—for example, inserting a mouse gene into a tomato’s DNA. Problems with GMO seeds include: possible public health issues, serious environmental concerns, and corporate abuse and control of our seed supply through unjust intellectual property rights.