Hybrid Seeds – A Few Things You Should Know

Hybrid Seeds – A Few Things You Should Know

Hybrid Seeds

I’m surprised by a few things when it comes to gardening. First, the lack of understanding in hybrid versus heirloom seeds. Hybrids are sometimes made out to be the villain of gardening. Second, the thought that USDA Hardiness Zones are “grow zones.” That one makes my eyes bug out. Rolling eyes are insulting and I’m probably guilty of doing it when I hear or read “grow zones.” Third, the unwillingness to start a garden before a specific date regardless of what the gardener is growing and the weather conditions. We’ll talk about that one later in the winter. Today we’re going to talk about hybrid seeds.

Can You Save Seeds From Hybrid Fruits and Vegetables?

You can save seeds from hybrids and the plants will most likely produce. You won’t get the same fruit or vegetable but you’ll get something. It might be delicious and it will at least be interesting to see the end result. The result will be a cross between the parents, and if the parents are hybrids their parents’ influence might show up in the end vegetable. You know those tomato volunteers that pop up in the spring? There you go.

hybrid seeds, cross pollination, heirloom seeds, open pollinated seeds
Hybrids are Tasteless, Right?

Do hybrid seeds grow tasteless food? Some certainly do, but so do some open pollinated and heirloom seeds. Open pollinated doesn’t mean heirloom and heirloom doesn’t mean open pollinated, by the way. Heirloom doesn’t have one specific definition. They’re varieties handed down through generations or age dependent. Some people consider a variety an heirloom once it’s been stable for 25 or 50 years. Open pollinated generally means the seeds will breed true – you’ll get the same fruit or vegetable every time.

Can you tell whether these seedlings are hybrid, open pollinated or heirloom? No, me either.

Hybrids are Not Genetically Engineered

Hybrids are the result of cross pollination.  Birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators cross-pollinate blossoms. Pollen floats on the wind and causes cross pollination. I wish I knew what apples crossed to create the ornamental variety growing at the edge of the road. Had I know that’s what it is before the tree was too big to move I’d have put it in a better spot. The apples look like clusters of cherries.

hybrid seeds, bees pollinate plants, bees, cross pollinationYou can cross pollinate plants easily with a paint brush, your finger, or by pulling one flower off to brush its pollen onto another flower. It’s not the same as genetically engineering a daffodil gene into rice (to increase Vitamin A, this is impossible naturally), or a gene from a firefly into a fish (to glow in the dark, sold as pets) or a nut gene into another food (imagine what this could do to someone with a nut allergy).

Genetic engineering happens only in a laboratory. That’s a simple way to keep the difference between the two straight.

4 thoughts on “Hybrid Seeds – A Few Things You Should Know

  1. Please keep writing! We enjoy your posts. Found you through the homesteading podcast you did recently. Great work!

  2. So true. It is also quite sad to me that people do not take the time to educate themselves on the difference and brand “hybrid” with “GE” seeds. I use several hybrid varieties that work well for me, and have, in fact, made my own when I get squash plants too close to one another and they cross. So, I usually do buy new squash seeds each year. My sister grew some really odd ones this year from what she had saved–I’ll bet she buys new seeds next spring instead saving from those odd ones. But, the squash was edible, and luckily, tasty. We also had a volunteer tomato that grew this past year and we got some sub-par tomatoes from it–so you win some and lose some.

    I also use several certain open-pollinated varieties as well, but rarely save the seeds. Although I know how, I rarely get around to it.

    This year will be a challenge for us. We’ve moved off of our property (long story) and into town. We searched for months to find a place we could stand for the $ we had. So, my challenge this year will be to see what I can do with my large backyard garden. We got a 1/3 acre lot with a small house, shop and large garden area. We put in a wood-burning stove and brought wood with us from out other place, and had the house wired for a generator in case it becomes necessary. We kept 2 upright freezers and one chest freezer, and all my canning stuff. We are so sad about not being able to grow our own meat anymore, but do plan to grow a great garden and keep canning and freezing as much as possible. My sister still has property, so I can grow extra there if needed. I’m excited to start ordering seeds and see what I can do.

    1. I got a small pear tomato that was an excellent paste tomato but I have no idea what varieties crossed. I hadn’t grown pears in that tunnel for many years. It’s interesting! I am going to buy pumpkin seeds for the deer but I’ll be watching to see if the pumpkins we bought and put in the food plot after Thanksgiving have volunteers.

      And yes, quite sad. This is food. It’s so important that without it we’d die but the lack of knowledge is disheartening.

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