Monday, August 5, 2013

Choosing vegetable seeds - GMO, hybrid, open pollinated or heirloom.

There was a time when this was a simple task of going to the nursery and buying the seeds you wanted from what was on the racks.
I suppose if you are older than me you may remember a time when friends would share seeds over the garden fence or you could take seeds from the grocery bought vegetables and plant those and they would produce a vegetable just like the one they came from.

Nowadays you hear people saying are these non-GMO or certified organic seeds? Are these seeds hybrids or heirloom?

I asked myself this when I started growing veggies from seed in 2008 and have finally settled on organic heirloom seeds. I have found that there are some drawbacks to this pure type of seed, but in my opinion the negatives of hybrids and non-GMO seeds outweigh them.

Most hybrid vegetable seeds are specifically bred for resistance to disease and for pest as well as aesthetic appeal. Nutritional value of the end product vegetable is not on the agenda with hybrid seed companies. While the original plant seeds used in this cross breeding is done extensively to keep the most desirable finished product, there are not the same nasty effects that you find in research done on foods grown from GM seeds.

The problem with hybrid seeds when used in the home garden is that you cannot grow the same crop from the seeds next year…so you have to buy again and again as the vegetables that come from any self seeding hybrids will be a deformed one from the parent.

Genetically modified seeds on the other hand should never be used and you should not consume foods that come from GM sources. Genetic seed engineering companies are able to patent their “new creations”. Initially it started out as a high tech form of hybridization where plant genes were crossed with one another and a new mutation was created. 

Currently these companies are using animal genes in their fiddling with seeds DNA that has got to the extent that plants can create their own “pesticide” which the consumer ends up eating. Studies have been done on pig’s livers that have eaten GM corn and soy and the degradation of one of the most important organs in a creature is horrendous.

So that’s the bad news…but there is good news!

Wise people before us, seeing the way things were heading, have been collecting seeds that are untampered with and will produce crop after crop from the original parent plant. These seeds are called Heirloom Seeds…after the way they have been handed down generation to generation.

Heirloom seeds are also generally open pollinated but not necessarily so. Open pollinated means the way God created it to happen – with wind, birds and insects moving from flower to flower and mingling the pollen. This creates a wide gene pool of DNA.

Where to buy heirloom open pollinated seeds?

Thank goodness for people like my friend Sean and his family who run Living Seeds and how he has created a storehouse for people wanting heirloom open pollinated seeds. 90% of the seeds that they sell are grown on their own property in Gauteng and the rest bartered from around the world.

Then there is The Gravel Garden here in the Western Cape who has a delightful selection of seeds for sale.

You can also buy non GM non hybrid seeds from some international sites still as customs do not yet stop seeds coming in.

Mike the Gardener  is a new favorite as his seeds are of a massive variety and the prices reasonable with the current soaring exchange rate. If you live in the States you should consider his seed of the month club, which looks great! I bought loads of seeds from him this year.

Once you have planned your veggie garden and you know which seeds to grow you are all set to get to the exciting part…starting your little seeds. This post has run on so I think I will put that into a seperate post soon

No comments: