Picking the Right Seeds: Hybrids/Heirlooms/GMO

Picking the Right Seeds: Hybrids/Heirlooms/GMO

If you want to be a seed starter or harvester keep these things in mind when selecting your seed this year.


Heirlooms are the original parent plants, and they will be your top pick if you want to save your seeds from year to year. They have not been cross pollinated with other varieties, so the saved seeds will grow to be the same as the parent plant. Because Heirlooms are non-hybridized they will not have the benefits that are bred into hybrid varieties. Heirlooms are great additions to any garden.


Hybrids are the product of two different varieties that exhibit specific traits that are beneficial. The upshot to which means you will often have stronger resistances to bugs and diseases. However saving the seeds will not guarantee a favorable offspring. There is often confusion surrounding hybrid and GMO seeds. It is important to understand that these two things are very different. Hybridization is like breeding a golden retriever and a poodle. Two different breeds passing on favorable traits to an offspring. Hybridization is one of the earliest practices in domesticated agriculture. Since the beginning of farming, there was hybridization.


There is a lot of talk about GMO seed varieties, but these are not plants that are readily available to the public. Creating GMO seed is a process by which a laboratory has manipulated the genetic code of the seed to introduce traits that would not naturally occur through hybridization. These seeds are used in mass production, and there is very little chance of GMO seeds getting into the regular seed supply so they are of very little consequence to the home gardener.


As you can see there are benefits to either hybrids or heirlooms. If you want to save seeds year after year you will want to choose more of the heirloom varieties. If you want a larger selection and would prefer more bug and disease resistance then hybrids would be the way to go. I give very little credence to GMO seed, I personally don’t like the practice and feel the reasons for their development to be short sighted.