A Seed is a Seed is a Seed…Right? Wrong! All garden seeds are not created equal. I know there are many people who are unaware of the difference between GMO and heirloom garden seeds. Many people choose not to listen, not to ask questions, and not to put in the time for research. Learning the difference between them can be critical to the continued food supply from your garden.
Since you’re reading this, you’re one of those who educate themselves about the GMO issue, organic gardening, and providing some of, if not most everything your family eats.
When you’re first learning about GMO crops and how they’re different from heirloom garden seeds, all the possibilities and information may be scary. We’re here to help.
You can read more about GMO issues on TFL.
Remember to look at the task you have at hand today, one step at a time. Keep your goals in mind. Stay flexible and willing to adjust your dreams and your plans to achieve the goal. The larger picture will come into being a little at a time. When my boys were young we had a saying: “By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch!”
Years ago it didn’t matter so much where you bought your seeds. A seed was a seed. Most of the old-timers saved them from their garden or bartered their seeds with neighbors. They purchased very little. We took this lesson from our grandparents to heart and practice.
Today, garden seeds are one of, if not the most important decision a gardener makes.
Since the Garden of Eden, we’ve known fruits and veggies are good for us. We’ve never been told, “Don’t eat too many tomatoes,” or “Don’t have more than one apple a day”.
Now we have big government and companies like Monsanto (which is the largest of the companies responsible for GMO’s; owning 90% of the seeds) “improving” on the heirloom seeds.
There is not really enough time and space to discuss this issue in full here in this article. We have articles on TFL for you to read and Dr. Jeffrey Smith has a movie I would DEFINITELY suggest ordering, Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives. We did and have invited our friends and family to watch it with us.
What are GMO Seeds?
GMO (genetically modified organisms) seeds, also called genetically engineered seeds, have names that I find interesting. Even their names indicate an unnatural thing. Let me try to simplify this complex issue.
Unlike hybrids, GMO seeds are created in a lab. Scientists, not farmers, use technical processes like gene splicing. They inject foreign genetic material of one species into the DNA of an unrelated species.
Mixing the DNA of plants, animals, bacteria, herbicides, and/or pesticides. They create combinations that would never happen in nature.
Remember the famous GM tomato spliced with fish and herbicides. Yep, the fish had anti-freeze properties. They wanted the tomato to be frost resistant.
So they injected the fish DNA into the tomato. They added some herbicide, hoping the bugs wouldn’t eat it. Sounds like it would be OK? But DNA alteration, especially between unrelated species, is unpredictable at best.
As a home gardener, you should be aware that you CAN NOT save GMO seeds to reuse in your garden. It is illegal. Most of them won’t reproduce because of the genetic changes but this doesn’t matter because
What are heirloom garden seeds?
An heirloom garden seed is one that is traceable through generations. They are traced to a time before pesticides and herbicides were used, especially by family farms.
You may be thinking: “You can’t know where that seed came from years and years ago.” Well, you’re right, I can’t. This is the main reason we recommend saving your own seed.
The best way to get heirloom garden seeds is to find a seed company you trust. This may take some trial and error but once you’ve found them, you can start building a relationship that will last for years to come.
If we have to buy seeds because of crop failure or to try something new, we have a few companies we support.
Where To Purchase Heirloom Seeds
We only grow heirlooms on our farm and buy them as organic seeds whenever available. Besides being the healthiest, most natural way, this also enables us to save seeds from these plants for replanting year after year.
They always produce the same healthy, hearty plant. This gives us a sustainable seed supply for our farmstead.
Sifting through all the blah, blah, blah…yada, yada, yada…can be overwhelming, I remember. To help you avoid some of the trial and error, here are some companies we consider to be the best of the best.
Now I am by no means saying these are all there is, nor am I saying these are the only good ones. These are the ones we have personal experience with and are willing to fully recommend and support.
When we order garden seeds, we most often order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. However, we have ordered and will order again in the future from Wood Prairie Farms and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
We identified with their principles of business, concerns, and goals. As always, I am careful about what and who I recommend to you because any good relationship is based on trust.
For more information on seed saving, you can read about it on TFL.
As always, we’re here to help.