Knowing the difference between Heirloom seeds & Hybrid seeds might open your eyes on our biodiversity. Before starting gardening, I did not know one crucial thing, Nature made it perfect since the beginning, everything is connected. I did not learn this as school whereas I now feel that growing your own should be a mandatory class.
My goal in this article is to expose you the key difference between heirloom seeds & hybrid seeds in a very condensed way.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEIRLOOM & HYBRID SEEDS
There are two types of seeds, hybrid & heirloom seeds. Hybrid seeds are a result of cross-pollination from several varieties, you can recognise them with the label “F1” written with the name of the variety on the seeds packaging. To create a hybrid variety, the process consists of taking a tomato variety A known for its higher resistance to diseases, a variety B known for its ability to preserve longer and then a variety C known for its ability to produce more. So yes hybrid seeds are more resistant, but they are also less natural & most importantly not fully reproducible versus heirloom seeds.
The beauty of heirloom seeds is that you can explore growing endless ancient varieties which will give you tasty harvests and healthy vegetables & fruits. And most importantly, heirloom seeds are fully reproducible. Out of one seed, you can obtain hundreds of them to replant the same variety for the next season.
Let’s take a pragmatic example with lettuce. If you plant eight lettuce seeds in a container, harvest seven of them to enjoy their delicious organic taste, and just leave one in its container. This lettuce will keep on growing, and after some time, during the sunny seasons, this green leaf vegetable will bolt into flowers, and guess what? These flowers will give you back seeds! Not only one seed, not two seeds, hundreds of them, so that you can plant even more lettuce! This is the beautiful cycle of Nature, out of one little tiny seed, it can produce hundreds of them so that you would never ever have to buy new lettuce seeds of the same variety. I’m always impressed and amazed by the tremendous generosity of our Nature.
GETTING BACK OUR ESSENTIAL RIGHTS
On the contrary to heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds won't reproduce the same seeds. So to get the same seeds, you will only have once choice : Going back to the store and buy again these seeds. The big international seeds producers created a new seed market demand. When going to a gardening shop, we can only find these hybrid seeds. And you know why? Because these powerful industrial hybrid seed producers are smartly defining & shaping their monopolistic market. They simply created an official and regulatory catalog listing the seeds authorised for commercial trade. Seeds that are not listed or referenced in this “official” catalog are simply forbidden for trade. And obviously, heirloom seeds are not part of this catalog, only hybrid ones. Thus, heirloom seeds associations or farmers selling these heirloom seeds were simply & deliberately declared outlaws. Hopefully since June 2020 in France, after years of fierce legal proceedings, selling heirloom seeds to non-professional gardeners is finally authorised again. Sadly, the European Union has not approved this law yet, we can clearly say that the lobbyists are still unfortunately doing a great job of influence. May this influence disappear so that our most natural reproducible heirloom seeds can continue to sprout, as they are the key to maintain our beautiful biodiversity.
BE PART OF THE CHANGE!
By reading these few lines, I hope it will give you the curiosity to know more about this topic. Most importantly, I hope it's giving you the true conviction to start growing with heirloom seeds. As non-professional gardeners, we are not growing to obtain this shiny marketing tomato which has the perfect round shape, the red deep colour but which has such a poor and flat taste. We are here to enjoy, to expand & explore the wonders of our biodiversity!
WHERE TO GET HEIRLOOM SEEDS?
As said earlier, we can't find them (yet) in big gardening centres due to legal restrictions. However, you can find online associations reproducing heirloom seeds and fighting for our biodiversity, let's give them our support. My two main heirloom seeds suppliers are Kokopelli Semences and Ferme de Sainte Marthe. They both ship internationally, they have a huge catalog offering you a large choice and they test the germination rate of their seeds. The packaging also provides very useful information on the variety.
I hope you will be joining the movement of heirloom seeds growers and maybe soon, you will be able to swap some seeds with gardeners around the world!
Happy growing to you & Green Love!