If you've ever wondered what the difference is between hybrid, heirloom, and genetically modified seeds, you’re not alone. It can be very confusing for any gardener to figure out which kind of seed is best for them and how to go about planting them once they've got it figured out. Here are a few tips to help you understand the difference between these kinds of seeds and how to choose the right one for your garden.
These seeds are special because they've been passed down year after year between farmers. The typical rule is that an heirloom seed comes from a plant that was grown before World War II. Farmers grew the crops, harvested the produce, and then saved the seeds to plant the next season. These seeds have a lot of history and have been kept “pure” from any kind of modification. Heirloom plants have been open-pollinated and therefore they stay true to their characteristics year after year. Open pollination means that the farmer left their plants out in the open air to be pollinated naturally by insects.
Hybrid seeds come from plants that have been crossbred by farmers. Farmers do this to create bigger, stronger plants by choosing the best of each strain and breeding them together to yield a plant with the good characteristics of each strain. This is how farmers get larger, better tasting crop yields. The downside of this is that the seeds produced by these cross-pollinated plants will usually not create a plant anything like the parent plant. Instead, these seeds will most likely produce a plant that is more like one of the parent plants. This means that farmers cannot use these seeds to produce the same result, so they end up buying more.
Genetically Modified Seeds
Genetically modified seeds have been genetically altered by humans, and therefore they contain modifications that are not natural. Genetically modified seeds don’t just cross-pollinate with other plants, but sometimes with other species like bacteria. Big corporations do this to produce crops that are pest-resistant or weather-resistant, which sounds like a good idea but can actually be harmful to ingest. These crops are designed to be poisonous to pests, so ingesting them doesn’t sound like such a great idea. Also, with the use of genetically modified seeds, heirloom seeds are being forgotten, and that means soon we won’t have any left. Look for non-GMO labels to make sure you aren’t supporting genetically modified seeds in order to support the trend of sustainable agriculture.