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When you decide to grow from seed, one of the more important decisions you make is choosing between different types of seeds — heirloom, hybrid, organic and GMO seeds. We’ve outlined below what we mean by these terms so you can choose what works best for you and your family.
Types of Seeds
Many resources define an heirloom as “a cultivar that has been grown in earlier periods of human history that is not typically grown in commercial or large-scale agriculture.” Here at San Diego Seed Company, we classify heirlooms as open-pollinated varieties that have tested true to type through time by growing successfully in a region for many generations. They also have cultural relevance and importance.
We define hybrids as “cultivars that are produced by human interaction and manipulation.” A hybrid is a cross between two or more unrelated inbred plants that produce an unstable offspring, which means that in nature, these two plants could breed together but typically do not, and human involvement helps this process along. Hybrids are not genetically modified and pose no environmental or health issues. Modern agriculture is built on the use of hybrids for their uniformity and productivity.
GMOs are organisms whose genome (genetic material) has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering. The process involves mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes to create an organism with desirable characteristics. Our seeds are 100% GMO-free.
Organic seeds are seeds produced in accordance with regulations determined by the USDA National Organic Program. They implemented these standards in 2002 in the wake of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Like any plant or organic product, seeds recognized as organic are grown without pesticides, herbicides, or any chemical that is not listed as organic. Seeds listed as organic are in regulation with the USDA Organic practices and are certified organic.
The Importance of Heirloom Seeds
The Secret to Life
Seeds are like the genetic maps of the past. Rare heirloom varieties hold characteristics that are not typically grown in large-scale agriculture. From a purple tomato to a green potato, these characteristics have to be safeguarded through seed saving to ensure they will not become extinct.
If gardeners purchase and grow only hybrid varieties, heirloom varieties will continue to dwindle, resulting in eventual extinction. This is evident in the untold amounts of heirlooms that have already faced extinction. By growing diversified heirlooms, growers can find well-suited plants for their specific conditions.
As small seed companies like ours are bought up by conglomerate seed companies, their seed collections are stripped down to few varieties. This lack in varieties leads many growers to plant varieties that are unfit for their garden. These gardeners also lack the diversity of plants that every garden needs to be happy and healthy.
Heirloom plants are the easiest to save seeds from. This is how our ancestors continued developing agriculture each year by simply saving last year’s seeds. At San Diego Seed Company, we want you to benefit from seeds saved and reproduced over several seasons.
Why Do Organic Techniques Matter in Seed Production?
Seed production is a lengthy and difficult process. Seed producers must grow their plants an average twice or three times as long to produce seeds. For instance, our Early Wonder Beets took just under a year to produce seeds. Maturity for edible beets is about two to three months. This means that seed producers face many more difficulties with pests and diseases. Due to the lengthy growing season, conventional seed production uses twice the amount of synthetic chemicals.
The benefit of planting organic seeds is knowing you are buying a product grown in a sustainable manner. Additionally, seeds grown organically have survived and adapted to the growing climate naturally – not with the help of synthetic chemicals. This means that only the strongest plants are chosen for seed production. This is how we produce outstanding seeds that are better adapted to your growing area.
Here at San Diego Seed Company, we only grow our seeds with the deepest love and care for our local and global environment.