We plant many different types of seeds at Sunnyside Organic Seedlings. Of course, all are certified organic. We prefer to grow heirloom seeds whenever possible, and encourage the backyard garenders who plant our starts to try saving their own seed!
Here's a brief primer on the different types of seeds we grow, and their respective advantages and limitations.
Hierloom seeds are non-hybrid and open pollinated. That means that we can expect to plant these seeds, save seeds from the mature fruits, re-plant those seeds, and produce fruits very much like the first generation. To qualify as an heirloom, the seed stock must be open-pollinated and at least 50 years old. Our heirloom varieties have proven themselves for generations, and are popular with backyard gardeners for their reliability and deliciousness!
Hybrid seeds are produced by crossing 2 different parent strains. The first generation of fruits grown from hybrid seed – known as F1 – are reliably true to type. Subsequent generations – F2 and beyond – produce fruits with different yields and traits. With every passing generation, an increasing proportion of the seed becomes non-viable. Seed-saving doesn't work with hybrids. To obtain reliable hybrid fruits, one must return to the seed catalog every year to purchase new F1 hybrid seed. If a hybrid does not offer any particular advantages to you, then choose a traditional non-hybrid, open pollinated variety.
Open pollinated seed
Open pollinated seeds are always non-hybrid, but they may not yet qualify for heirloom status. If you'd like to try saving your own seed, choose the best of your crop for seed collection. Setting aside the best fruits will ensure the quality of the next generation, and maintain the traditional flavor of the variety. If you save seeds over several seasons, you will see improvements in your crops as they adapt for your garden and climate. You may end up with plants that are higher quality than a hybrid!