I know it is about a month early here, but I am getting excited about spring. I cannot wait to start planting our heirloom and landrace seeds Basswood has collected. He spent several hundred dollars last fall collecting garden seeds from several different seed companies that specialize in heirloom and landrace seeds. He spent hours on the internet and checked out several books from the library, studying about different gardening methods and the advantages of using heirloom and landrace seeds in the landrace gardens we want to develop this year. Here are some of the differences between the different types of garden seeds:
Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation among a family or group of gardeners. Heirloom seeds were developed and saved because of their flavor, nutrition, looks, hardiness, etc. Gardeners have tried to keep the genetics of heirloom seeds pure by preventing cross pollination from other varieties. There are now several seed companies that have collected heirloom seeds from different places and grow them out to sell to us gardeners. The reason we like heirloom seeds is because they grow true. They will have the same traits as the parent plant. Heirloom Seeds.
Landrace seeds are seeds with very diverse genetics. This diversity in genetics enables landrace crops to adapt to different growing conditions, and resist different pests and diseases. Landrace seeds adapt through survival of the fittest because the seeds from the plants that did the best under the new growing conditions are the seeds that are saved to be planted in the coming years. We like landrace seeds because, with this genetic diversity, they have the ability to adapt to our local growing conditions. We live in Northern Minnesota where the heirloom seeds do not grow as well as they do in the climates they came from. Landrace Seeds
Hybrid seeds are seeds that come from a cross of two different varieties. There can be advantages to crossing different varieties. You can get an improved trait that you were looking for, and you will increase the genetic diversity of the plants that you grow. One problem with heirloom seeds is if the people who have been saving the seeds have not grown out enough plants each year, and also had not collected seeds from enough different plants over the years, the genetics of their heirloom variety will have gotten more and more limited over time. This decrease in genetics can lead to problems with hardiness and resistance to diseases, etc. This is why several heirloom seed companies have seed banks where they save as many different cultivars as possible, so that if the genetics become lost over time they can be retrieved from the seed bank.
GMO seeds, or genetically modified seeds, are seeds that have been altered genetically in a laboratory to develop traits that do not exist in nature. GMO seeds have been developed to improve the profit that can be made from commercial crops. Crops have been genetically modified to tolerate a certain pesticide, increase the oil or sugar content, and to increase the shelf life, among other things. GMO Seeds
The companies that make GMO seeds would like you to believe that GMO seeds are really just Hybrid seeds. Hybrids have been happening in nature for thousands of years and are a good thing. The problem comes when man starts splicing in genes that do not occur naturally. We cannot know all the far-reaching effects that these changes will make.
Many countries feel that GMO seeds and crops are so dangerous that they have banned them. Russia has gone as far as banning all corn and soybeans that come from the USA because almost all of our commercial crops have been contaminated with genetically modified organisms.
We at Garden Seeds recommend heirloom and landrace seeds because they are GMO free by definition. We have also discovered that the changes to GMO seeds have come at the expense of flavor and nutrition. We now have to eat more of these GMO foods to get the nutrition we used to get when we could buy heirloom and landrace crops in the store. (Could this be why there is an obesity problem?) We hope you hurry and get your garden seeds because the demand for heirloom and landrace seeds is really making a comeback in the last few years. Some varieties are already becoming hard to find.