As I start to roll out my gardening posts, you will notice I talk a lot about organic gardening. I personally only grow organic non-GMO seeds. But seriously, do you even know what the difference is between Heirloom, Open-Pollinated, Hybrid and GMO Seeds? Want to know? Well, here it is explained in plain English.
Open Pollinated Seeds
This is what I call old-school gardening. Seeds are collected from parent plants that have similar genetic characteristics. Like when you have a kid and she looks like you, but different in her own way. These days in order to have true open-pollinated seeds, you have to grow them in isolation. You do this so they don’t cross pollinate with another variety in the same species of plant. You can then grow seeds that are similar generation after generation and select out and keep offspring seeds that are disease resistant.
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated seeds. The distinction here is that these seeds have been handed down for at least 60 years, or pre-World War II. This started as gardeners around the world started saving seeds that were native to their particular area in case we had a nuclear fallout. You can find Heirloom seeds specific to different regions of the world and maintained by seed savers and gardeners.
Have you read this post: 10 Popular Heirloom Veggies to Grow
Now we start playing with genetics, but in a good way. F1 Hybrids are first generation seeds from plants that were a cross of two different genetic parents. Think taking two different types of tomatoes and crossing them to make a new type of tomato offspring that has the best qualities of its parents. Hybrids are often bred to be disease resistant. Since the early 1920s, many hybrid varieties are still grown and saved used traditional methods. Their offspring’s seeds cannot be saved though as they won’t grow true to type. F1 Hybrids have been bred out in the fields, not in a lab.
Genetically Modified Seeds (GMO)
GMO seeds can be both hybrids or open pollinated, but they were created with what is called Recombinant DNA Technology in a lab, not out in nature. What exactly is Recombinant DNA Technology you might be wondering? It is the ability to take DNA molecules from different sources and insert them into one molecule in a test tube. Those added DNA molecules can come from related or unrelated species to create a new species.
A lot of big companies that are in support of GMO seeds will tell you that without them we can not feed the world. That is complete BS. Heirloom plants can and have grown enough food to feed our ever-growing planet. Most GMO seeds are also grown in fields that have pesticides and herbicides sprayed on the plants.
In non-GMO gardens you will never find chemically treated plants. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want to eat all that crap if I can help it.
So for me, I will continue to garden the way my grandmothers did. I will save seeds to share with my friends and family. I will grow too many vegetables like I always do and give them away or take them down to the community food bank.
For those that don’t know me, I studied Biochemistry and Genetics in college and am a huge science nerd. With that being said, I do not support GMO gardening. All of what I teach is how to grow organically, without GMOs and pesticides. I hope you want to learn to garden this way, I have a lot to show you.
My favorite sources for growing an Organic Garden:
Organic Potting Soil
- Black Gold Organic Potting Soil
- Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil
- Dr Earth 728 1-1/2 Cubic Feet Natural and Organic Potting Soil