Just in case the previous article describing some of the vegetable varieties I’m growing this season didn’t inspire you to investigate a few heirloom seed choices, today I’ll share some of the reasons that hybrid vegetable seeds aren’t high up on my shopping list.
First I’ll admit to planting a hybrid variety or two in my garden, but there have to be pretty compelling reasons and an exceptional plant involved to cause me to go against my better judgment like that. And while open pollinated plants aren’t perfect, I prefer to grow them for a number of very good reasons:
Top Ten Reasons for Planting Heirlooms in the Veggie Garden
1. Never met a GMO that I liked – GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms and that really doesn’t sound like something I want showing up on the dinner table. I simply don’t trust GMO’s or the motives behind them, and I’m curious to see the arguments that will be used to try and convince us that GMO’s are better for us.
2. Too thrifty to pay for seeds every year – It’s bad enough to get hit with debit card transaction fees and cable bills, but do you want to be suckered into paying each year for something else that we used to be able to get for free? Heirlooms provide the convenient and cost-free option of saving your own seeds if you’d like.
3. No fine print or disclaimers required – The new hybrids will draw you in with features such as modern blossoms, designer colors, and other surprises, but will they also advertise if it just so happens that the new improvements are a trade off for less in the way of flavor, aroma, hardiness, or nutritional content? Hmmm.
4. Seed competition is a good thing – If a monopoly is such a bad thing, consider the thought of giant seed conglomerates making all the decisions about what seeds should be grown, which ones should be discontinued or eliminated altogether, and whether you should have the right or ability to save seeds from the plants that grow in your own garden.
5. Our great grandparents had excellent taste – They never had to listen to someone reminiscing about good, old-fashioned flavor in a tomato… all of their tomatoes were good, old-fashioned tomatoes with that true tomato flavor!!! The need for such comparisons were basically admissions that the breeders had ruined a good thing when it came to tomato taste.
6. New and Improved is overrated – Yeah, I saw that list of incredible new hybrids coming to market this year, it just didn’t excite me all that much since I always get to choose from a long list of “new” and interesting vegetable varieties thanks to the unique offerings from the heirloom suppliers and seed exchanges.
7. I’m a gardener, not a farmer – Maybe I’d be more concerned with thick skins, uniformity, and the shipping capabilities if I was a farmer, but I’m a backyard gardener. I prefer varieties that ripen over a long season rather than all at once, and my tender produce doesn’t need to travel any further than from the garden to the kitchen counter. I’m much more interested in gourmet quality, vine ripened harvests, and freshness than I am with the important commercial qualities.
8. Purple carrots are so cool – Not only purple carrots, but red, white, yellow, and orange ones too. And these colorful carrots (along with other unusual vegetables) have all been around for ages, but try explaining that to your local grocer the next time your want something a little different for dinner.
9. Seeds and strings build strong muscles – So what if I have to spit out a melon seed or expend a little effort to peel strings from a bean pod the way I remember doing as a child? I can always chalk it up as exercise. And explain to me again how a plant that is bred to be sterile and is too weak and unnatural to produce even a single seed is going to be viable and potent when it comes to nutritional content?
10. Giving credit where credit is due – Then there are the patented plant varieties with their labels warning that you will turn into a criminal the second you attempt to propagate or share a cutting or two. I have no problem with a breeder being compensated for their labor, but how do you take something that the Almighty created, alter it to some degree, and then tell gardeners that it’s your property and they can no longer do what they’ve always had the liberty to do with their plants?
Thanks, but no thanks, I think I’ll pass… I’m actually quite content and happy with my open pollinated heirlooms.
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