Hybrid or non-hybrid and why?

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I have gone back through the old threads looking for information on seeds for our garden and can't find what I need. Some where I read that we should use either hybrid or non-hybrid seeds. Can someone help me out on this and tell me why one is suggested over the other? My father-in-law would like to know before he orders his seeds next season. Also any web-sites with this information would be appreciated. Thanks, Mary

-- Mary Howe (doesnotmatter@thistime.com), November 07, 1998


Although you might get a better yield with hybrid seeds, you might reconsider if you plan to harvest seeds from your plants for the next season. The problem with hybrid seeds is the ability to reproduce itself. I'm not saying that all hybrid seeds cannot reproduce, but many cannot.

For a perpetual seeding and planting practice, you definitely want to go non-hybrid. Check this site out.


-- James Chancellor (publicworks1@bluebonnet.net), November 07, 1998.

Use organically grown, non-irradiated, heirloom seeds. Check out: http://st4.yahoo.com/seedso fchange/

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 07, 1998.


If you want to save seed from year to year it's best to use open pollinated or non- hybrid seed that experience demonstrates will grow well in your area. You can use commercial hybrid seed if you have to- often the "second generation" will germinate and produce but will not breed true and can revert to a less productive plant than the hybrid parent. There are several sources for heirloom seeds- best find one in your area or one that has varieties suited to your climate/ growing season. Ark Institute is a good source for seed and information and deserve support for the work they are doing- so do several other seed sources specializing in open pollinated heirloom seeds. There's a great book out called _Seed to Seed_ that will tell you what you need to know about keeping plant strains pure, producing and successfully saving seed (sorry, can't remember the author's name- got my copy from Amazon but Ark Institute sells it too).

You can use several of the several hundred search engines on the web to find sources for seed. My favorite search engine is InFind at http://www.infind.com. If you search for phrases, put them inside quotation marks- search "seed savers exchange" as an example. You can search "heirloom seeds" or "open pollinated seeds" as well. If you search for single words no quotes are necessary (want more search engines? Search "search engines"). You will also find ads in various magazines like _Countryside_ (which is now doing a good series on y2k for homesteaders, by the way).

Happy searching, and happy gardening.


-- nemo (nemo@deepsix.com), November 07, 1998.

I get some "volunteers" from hybrids...mostly tomatoes...mostly unplanned seeds from compost...but you cannot guarantee the fruit from these plants...

The only reason to go strictly non-hybrid is if you are going to save seed....If you save seed from non-hybrids..you get whatever it was you planted...with hybrids...you have no guarantee tha you will not get whatever was added in hybridization, plants that may give small fruit, no fruit....

I am betting on a combination of hybrid and non-hybrid seed...just remember what you planted...keep good records...especially if you are saving seed. Which I think most people should try...it's a great challenge...lots of good books at the library...or information online.

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 07, 1998.

The difference between the two is that open pollinated non-hybrid seeds will always produce the same crop the next year. Hybrid seeds are the result of crossing plants with desirable traits, but if you wanted to produce the same results, you'd have to use seeds from the same parent plants, because if you saved the seeds from your hybrid crop, they probably wouldn't breed true; if you used hybrid super sweet corn seeds, for example, and saved seeds from that crop, the next yesr's crop would probably be tough and not very tasty at all.

Web sites: http://csf.colorado.edu/perma/abundant/index.html Abundant Life Seeds, PO Box 772, Port Townsend, WA 98368 #0151; (360) 385-5660

http://www.crest.org/sustainable/ecology_action/index.html Ecology Action, 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490 #0151; (707) 459-6410

http://www.invisiblegardener.com The Gardener

http://desert.net/seeds/home.htm Native Seeds/SEARCH, 2509 N. Campbell Ave. #325, Tucson, AZ 85719

http://www.plantsavers.org/supplier.html Plant Savers #0151; Links to Other Seed Sources

http://nj5.injersey.com/~jceres/garden/sse.html Seed Savers Exchange, Rural Rt 3, Box 239, Decorah, IA 52101 http://www.seedsblum.com Seeds Blum, Idaho City Stage, Boise, ID 83706 #0151; (800) 528-3658

http://www.seedsofchange.com Seeds of Change, PO Box 15700, Sante Fe, NM 87506 #0151; (888) 762-7333

-- Karen Cook (browsercat@hotmail.com), November 07, 1998.

I'm going for non hybrid,open pollinated with a back up of hybrid.

BUT...get a good book on "seed saving." The library will have some, or "Seed to Seed" by Susan Ashford is on Amazon. I just got a copy and it taught me a lot. For instance, most beans, under most circumstances are self pollinated...so you can grow several varieties nearby. Broccoli...even open pollinated broccoli, must have several plants planted together because the individual plant will not accept its own pollen. Sunflowers will cross pollinate with other sunflowers up to five miles away....it goes on and on! ,Tomato seed has to be allowed to rot in water!

So far the cheapest and best seed I have found, for open pollinated is from Willhites....www.wlllhiteseed.com .

Sometimes some smaller companies have seed that does not germinate...I think they buy on the cheap and/or don't store properly. Also, Vermont Bean Seed, Shumways, Totally Tomatoes, and that English Flower place are all owned by the same company, but have different prices in each catalog for the same variety. I don't know what that means, but I get suspicious when a company starts playing games.

The Willhite prices were the best, for the quality, that I could find of all the seed catalogs I have. All their seed is treated, or most of it....probably better for storage and viability, although not to be handled by children.

We did this...when the order came, I used small coin envelopes and divided each package into three groups (there is enough in even the smallest packet to do this) One group to plant next growing season 1999, one group for 2000 and a back up. The 1999 and 2000 seeds are stored in 2 quart mason jars. We punched a small hole in the lid, filled the jar with nitrogen gas, and sealed it. It should be OK.

But, because of the greater productivity, I am also laying in a supply of hybrid seeds...from Parks, Burpee, and Johnny's, probably.

I guess I better get those orders out....

Mary in CA.

-- Mary Gonzales (blufrogg@garlic.com), November 11, 1998.

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