What is the difference between heirloom seeds and non-hybrid seeds? (nt)

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-- youknow@who.com (a@a.a), October 13, 1999


I believe that "Heirloom" is a trade name for open-pollinated seed. "Non-hybrid" is essentially the same thing. The idea behind using such seed is that you can use part of your crop as next year's seed without sacrificing any of the genetic characteristics of your harvest.

Actually, in planting your own seed year after year, it actually adjusts to your soil type so that it does better than new seed. I found this to be true when I bought new seed potatoes (Did I spell that right? If I'm not running for public office, maybe it doesn't matter.) My old potatoes did much better than the new ones.

After planting hybrid seed most of my life, I am becoming convinced that the old stuff isn't so out-of-date after all.



-- gene (ekbaker@essex1.com), October 13, 1999.

All seeds are hybrids from some point in their evolution. Many of the older varieties we still plant are hybrids from earlier in the century but have fixed their genetic characteristics and will come true from seed. Detroit Dark Red Beets, most of the carrots, turnips, etc. Tomatoes may run down regardless of the variety and squashes interbreed so severely that who knows what you'll get the second year. This issue is most important for corn and tomatoes. Most of the rest of garden seed will serve you just fine.

-- Sand Mueller (smueller@azalea.net), October 13, 1999.

Heirloom is not a trade name--just a term to describe *old fashioned* varieties no longer in vogue.

I agree that seed hybridization isn't really an issue except with tomatoes and sweetcorn.

One problem I haven't seen addressed is how do you save seed from biennial crops in a cold climate?

Carrots, for example, produce seed the second year after planting. They rarely go to seed the first year. Carrots will overwinter in mild climates (zone 7), may overwinter in zones 6-5 with LOTS of mulch, but in zones 4-2, its nearly impossible without a heated greenhouse. It is possible to store carrots in a sandbox in a root cellar and then replant them the following spring, but this is very iffy.

Parsnips overwinter just fine in cold climates. They won't be worth eating the second year, but they will produce seed.

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts are biennials. Although they are frost-tolerant, they will not overwinter in cold climates.

Onions--some varieties (winter onions and walking onions) will overwinter and reproduce on their own. Onions grown from sets are already a year old so they usually go to seed that year. Onions grown from seed, however, may not go to seed. You then have to save some of your stored onions to replant the following spring.

Saving seeds can be tricky. If you've never done it before you may want to get a book on the subject. I can't think of a title right now, maybe someone else has a suggestion???

-- Sam Mcgee (weissacre@gwtc.net), October 14, 1999.

Saving Seeds by marc rogers majorsurplusandsurvival.com I think it is 12 bucks.

-- jeremiah (braponspdetroit@hotmail.com), October 14, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth

Growing Garden Seeds: A Manual for Gardeners and Small Farmers, by Robert Johnston, Jr.

I have six books on gardening. Most of these have a small section on seed saving.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), October 14, 1999.

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