Many people approach me with questions about my vegetable seedlings. Many want to know if they are GMO free, if they are Heirloom, if they are Organic. I can always guarantee my plants are fed all natural organic fertilizer and planted in organic soil. I can also guarantee I plant only GMO free seed. What I cannot say, is that I plant only heirloom seeds.
I have many requests for hybrid vegetable seedlings, especially tomatoes. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you know what I mean! They can be quite fussy depending on the variety. With our many micro-climates here in Santa Barbara, it may be difficult for some growers to achieve the results they hope for. If you plan on feeding your family, and you depend on those vegetables and tomatoes, you might find it easier to do so with certain hybrids that have been found to be disease resistant.
There are some great hybrid varieties such as Big Beef and Sweet 100 Cherry. These varieties are good producers and appeal to people who enjoy large slicing tomatoes, or the small sweet-like-candy cherry tomatoes. They seem to do well in all climates and are less susceptible to diseases such as mold, blight, and wilt. Hybrids also tend to produce more uniform fruit, whereas an heirloom could quite possibly have different looking fruits on the same vine.
One of the downsides of hybrid seeds, and it is especially noticeable with squash, is that the seeds do not grow true to the parent plant if saved and replanted. Second generation hybrid squash plants tend to produce strange, light green, odd-looking fruits that don’t look very appetizing. Tomatoes on the other hand, could produce something similar in looks to the parent plant, although inferior in taste and texture.
You could conduct your own Mendelian experiment, and create a hybrid of your own. Cross-pollinate two varieties you enjoy, and save the seeds from those fruits. From the seed you would grow many plants, 64 or 128! You would then evaluate those plants and select the ones most like the original hybrid that you produced. From those plants you would collect the seed and repeat the process until you end up with the stabilized hybrid. It may take five or six generations of plants to get back to where you started. You can then save those seeds, give them a special name, pass them down in your family for 50 years and create your own heirloom variety!
I am not going to get much into the Seminis/Monsanto discussion.There are lists online containing the names of hybrid seeds designed by this company, and some lists are more accurate than others. I personally choose not to support this particular company. Under the Monsanto umbrella is a very small home-garden division called Seminis Gardens that produces and sells some well-known, non-GMO varieties. Some tomato seeds that I use which are on “the list” such as Lemon Boy, were developed and introduced long before Monsanto owned Seminis, and were originally sold under an entirely different brand. These varieties are now available from a number of reputable seed producers. Make your own informed decisions on what seeds to buy.
Hybrids or Heirlooms, it is really a matter of personal preference!