Hybrids are the result of crossing two varieties to create a plant that contains the benefits of both parents, however it is not possible to save seed from hybrids, nor to locally acclimatize them to your growing conditions. Hybrids work great in large-scale and mechanized systems, however may not be the best choice for long term sustainability.
Open-pollinated seeds contain a lot of genetic diversity and although they show some variation when grown, this variation ensures that the crop can adapt to climate change and weather extremes. The seed saved from open-pollinated varieties will grow true-to-type, meaning you can expect similar growth, traits, and yields every year. The added benefit to being able to save your own seeds is that every year you will be saving from your best plants, and as a result will be acclimatizing the crop to your own specific micro-climate! Of course, you'll also have your own seed, which saves money and increases your self-reliance.
Heirlooms are also gaining popularity, and for good reason. Heirloom seeds are simply open-pollinated varieties that have been grown in a specific location for many generations. Passed down by family members, heirloom varieties will have significantly acclimatized to their region and will have developed a chosen trait over time, such as a purple carrot!
Whatever type of seeds you choose, there are many excellent companies that sell a large variety of high-quality seeds that will ship to your door. We encourage the use of open-pollinated seeds, especially heirlooms in order to preserve rare and valuable varieties.
We’ve had great success Saltspring Seeds, West Coast Seeds, and especially Rare Seeds.
So, what’s next? We have to determine how many seeds we need before we order! There is a valuable resource to be found in the book titled How to Grow More Vegetables. The master charts contained within the book outline the volume of seed required to plant a pre-determined area, as well as optimal spacing, and details on how to grow every crop from seed to harvest. Typical yields are also included, so if you are aiming to grow 100 lbs. of potatoes, you’ll discover how large an area is required to do so!
Seed shopping is one of our favorite tasks, and we encourage you to take your time and enjoy the process. Before you know it, it’ll be time to sow those seeds!
~ by James Christie-Fougere and Sharon Coombs
Ishtadev Niwas Ashram
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