Well, we’ve gone ahead and done some research for you to provide a high-level understanding of the different types of seeds available.
Types of Seeds
Of course there are seeds available to grow all of the different vegetables that you are aware of (and many that you aren’t aware of). Aside from species and variety however, there is a glaring difference in the types of seeds available. That is to say, the origin of these seeds.
To understand this, let’s take a look at where different seeds may come from.
First we have Mother Nature. She has been working hard providing us with all sorts of seed bearing vegetables, fruits and herbs. These seeds are what you might refer to as heirloom. These are the seeds that can still be found in the wild in their respective regions of the world. Pretty simple.
Then we have the Scientist. Just like humans, plants have DNA. In the mid 1990s, a new variety of tomato was created in a lab by modifying an existing tomato seed’s DNA so that the tomato would stay on a shelf much longer without rotting. These seed types are what are referred to as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). (In the world of nature, these seeds would never be possible.) Some scientists have gone so far as to modified the genes of a plant by injecting genes of an animal!
A third classification of seeds is not created in a lab and they are not exactly given to us directly by Mother Nature. Rather, these seeds are the result of interested parties selecting naturally occurring seeds from plants that carry the attributes that they find beneficial, for instance great flavor and long storage. They then pollinate the plant, using controlled methods, with the pollen from another plant that has desirable traits. Through a couple of generations of propagation in this manner, the “seed breeder” literally ensures that the resulting plants exhibit the exact qualities that are being sought after. These are called hybrid. (In the world of nature, however very unlikely, these seeds may eventually come into being.)
You may ask yourself, what about Organic Seeds?
By definition GMO seeds cannot be organic. Both hybrid and heirloom seeds can be organic, however not all are. (Some seed companies will add chemicals to hybrid and heirloom seeds prior to putting them on the market, thereby removing them from their organic status. They do this as a means to minimize some issues that may arise from non-beneficial insects, fungus and other microbes. Unfortunately this, like many other uses of chemicals, is found to have severely detrimental impacts on our environment and health.)
One can typically look for the organic logo to ensure that the seed they are purchasing is organic, however not all organic seed producers prescribe to the certification (and thusly can not, and do not, use the logo even though they may be organic). Fortunately there are retailers who are able to comment on the viability of the seeds they sell, certified or otherwise.
Katrina Hittner, Co-owner Family Natural Foods in Wisconsin Rapids, states, “We love fielding questions like this. Not only do we get to help educate our customers, but we also have a chance to learn more about the constantly evolving world of organics and seeds in general. Our customers welcomingly keep us on our toes.”
We’ve found that, in fact, Hittner, like all of the other employees at Family Natural Foods, have gardens of their own and are willing to share, with a smile, their experience and knowledge.
As the snow fades away and a new growing season comes upon us, garden planning begins. It’s time to head down to your local seed supplier to select the beginnings of what will become your cornucopia for the year.
Family Natural Foods has been supplying Wisconsin Rapids farmers and gardeners with seeds for over 69 years. They can be reached by telephone at 1-715-423-3120, online at www.familynaturalfoods.com or, as many perfer, in person at 910 W Grand Ave. in Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495.