Non Hybrid Seeds
Why Choose Non Hybrid Seeds?
Everyone who enjoys gardening, for whatever reason, has probably grown hybrid seed at some time. If you enjoy the results of the seed, such as a highly productive squash or tasty carrot, you might want to save the seed and grow it again the next year. However, if you do save seeds from hybrid plants, you are bound to be disappointed – the plants that result will not be like the parent, and the results are often inedible. Additionally, seeds from hybrid plants are often sterile or have a very low germination rate.
However, if you grow plants from non-hybrid seeds, you will be sure that next year’s crop will be just as delicious as the one from the current year. The genetic material in the parent plant will be contained in the next year’s plant, so you will know exactly what you will be getting.
What’s Wrong With Hybrid Seeds?
Hybrid seeds present problems on several levels. One problem, of course, is the inability of hybrid plants to breed true from year to year. Even if the seed from a hybrid plant sprouts, the results will be unpredictable, if not downright awful. One year, we did plant some seeds from a hybrid squash plant, just to see what would turn up. What turned up was a trollish, lumpy squash completely unlike the parent. We tried eating it, but the taste was awful. We named this vegetative stepchild the ‘zumpkin’. We could not even imagine what the original plants could have been.
There is yet another problem with hybrid seeds, and that is what might be termed a societal one. Previous to the Second World War, many people gardened. Some of these were small scale, family farmers who provided a limited amount of good, nutritious food to the people in their area. However, even people who were not farmers also actively gardened. Most backyards had a vegetable patch, and very often the seeds from these vegetables were saved from year to year.
With the advent of hybrid seeds, there was a shift in farming and away from heirloom seeds It was now easier and more profitable to have huge farms devoted to the monoculture of one kind of plant. As the cost of production was less, these agribusiness concerns began to put the family farmers out of business – you can only lower your prices so much, after all. Besides the effects of monoculture on small farmers, many of the hybrid seeds need special fertilizers and pesticides, which are only available from certain suppliers, usually the corporation that provided the seeds. The last few years have seen lawsuits and other problems arising from the use of hybrid seeds.
Besides hybrid seeds, there are now also genetically modified, or bioengineered, seeds on the market. These seeds have had their DNA changed by the addition of genes often completely unrelated to the original plant. A gene for greater frost resistance has been inserted into some cold-sensitive plants. Most of the genes used for bioengineering plants seem to come from bacteria that have been modified in some way in the laboratory, and are introduced into the DNA of the plant by a viral vector. Whether there will be mutations over the generations of plants remains to be seen, or whether the modified genes will ‘jump’ via pollen is another question that is still unanswered. The use of bacteria and viruses seems questionable at best, considering the problems caused by many of them. There is also the high mutation rate associated with viruses, especially, to be taken into account.
Sticking With Non Hybrid Seeds
It may come as a surprise that non-hybrid seeds, open pollinated or heirloom seeds, offer a much greater diversity than do hybrids. The cost of bringing a new hybrid onto the market is very high, so it pays the horticultural companies to produce a minimum of new varieties. Previously, there were dozens and dozens of beets, carrots, and lettuces offered. These were all open pollinated varieties, so over the years new plants had evolved through natural selection and a little help from farmers. These plants were generally quite well adapted to the local climate and would often be quite hardy.
Helping to answer the call for heirloom seed, many companies now specialize in providing just that to their customers. Many people want to provide more ‘natural’ food for their family, and heirloom seed can definitely do that. Heirloom, non-hybrid seeds will produce reliable, tasty crops, and you will be able to enjoy them year after year, even if you never buy another seed. Saving and storing heirloom seed is easy, and will assure you of many years of gardens to come.
Non-hybrid seeds also make up survival seed packages. These are generally meant to be kept in a safe, cool spot in the event of widespread disaster. Regardless of how the food supply is holding up, you will still be able to grow healthy plants with your supply of non-hybrid seeds.
For the best source of non hybrid seeds, or other survival seeds