Every year I anticipate my seed catalogs arriving in the mail. I consider this the first sign of spring! Yippee! If you are new to gardening or new to starting your plants by seed, some of the abbreviations may leave you perplexed. What is an heirloom? What does open pollinated mean and do I want that?
Smalltownliving.com has put together a wonderful article explaining what these seed terms mean.
The seed catalogs are starting to pour in and the excitement is in the air to get growing. But…when you look at the catalogs you see a variety of seeds ..some marked hybrid, some marked open pollinated, some marked organic, and some marked heirloom.
Just what is the difference here.
Hybrid seed is seed that is derived from mixing different traits from various plants to come up with a new/unique variety. Alot of times when seed is planted from this type of plant..it may/may not grow true to the parent plant. (In your seed catalogs you’ll see hybrid seed is listed with numbers like F1 and so forth on the description.)
Open pollinated seed means the seed is allowed to grow as nature intended…all heirloom seed is open pollinated seed.Open pollinated seed is then classified as both heirloom seed and open pollinated if the strain of seed has proven to grow “true to type” for 50 yrs or better.
Heirloom seed is seed that has been passed down from generation to generation and is seed that is at least from a 50 to 100 year strain of seed that has proven to grow “true to type” meaning that what you plant seed wise will look like the parent plant.
Organic seed does not necessarily mean that you are getting an heirloom variety of seed..organic simply refers to the methods/practices by which the seed has been grown..usually with minimal chemicals. Both hybrids and heirlooms can be grown organically.