As you’re planning your garden for the year you might be wondering – Does it matter if I choose heirloom vs hybrid seeds? Yes, it does.

Planting? Start with good reliable seeds

Seed, to a gardener, is a treasured commodity. Many gardeners like to get a jump on the season by planting certain seeds, such as tomatoes, peppers, or annual flowers in special starter kit trays or recycled containers of all sorts, placing them under grow lights so they will be ready for planting in the garden in late May, after the risk of frost has passed. Other gardeners, like myself, wait for the soil to warm up to plant them directly into their garden and of course a few trips to my favourite greenhouse to get peppers, tomatoes, marigolds etc.

Whatever the process, it is important for all gardeners to have good reliable seeds.

There are different types of seeds – Heirloom vs Hybrid vs Organic vs GMO

Heirloom seeds are the result of being open-pollinated through nature that is, by insects, birds, or the wind.   The characteristics of the plant and/or fruit produced from heirloom seeds tend to remain similar from one generation to the next. Seeds that are considered heirloom are at least 50 years old and older and can be saved to plant the next garden season.

Certified organic seeds are from plants grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and hence retain no residues from these chemicals. Many gardeners are choosing to plant organic seeds because of this fact. There are more small family seed companies being established and growing organic seeds to produce for this market.

Hybrid seed is created when plant breeders or industrious gardeners cross-pollinate two different varieties of a plant species, to produce an offspring or hybrid that has the best traits or characteristics of each of the parent plants, such as bigger fruit size, early maturity, or better disease resistance. This process can take many years. The development of hybrid seed was the beginning of the commercial seed market, about 100 years ago. You shouldn’t save seeds from hybrid plants as they won’t produce true from the parent plant in the next generation.

GMO or ‘genetically modified organism’ is produced not through Mother Nature’s occurrence but by scientists to modify or alter a seed’s DNA to ensure the resulting plant produces the desired traits and characteristics. GMO seeds are not yet available to the home gardener.

So as you can see there is a big difference in the seeds that we can choose to plant in our gardens. That choice is up to individual gardeners as to what they want to achieve from their garden, a prize-winning vegetable or flower or what they want their family to eat.

If you like to save seeds to plant next year, hybrids are not your best choice. For more information, read

Translating the Language of Seed Packets: Hybrid, Heirloom, non-GMO, and more

Or this article from the University of Illinois 

Sources and Links to More information:

What is Heirloom vs Hybrid –

Heirloom Beans –

Seed Saving Basics

Starting Seeds