Row by Row Episode 177: Garden Seed Update
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Row by Row Episode 177: Garden Seed Update

Row by Row Episode 177: Garden Seed Update

Tonight, we discuss the difference in seeds. With a lot of confusion on what Open-Pollinated, Heirloom, and Hybrid seeds are, we will break it down for you.

Open-Pollinated (OP)

  • Occurs in nature, naturally. As long as plants are separated from other varieties, will breed true to type.
    • Advantages: Save seeds for next season, Superior flavor
    • Have stable traits from one generation to the next.


  • Developed outside commercial plant trade
    • Past down from generation to generation
    • Identified by how long the seed has been passed down. (50-100 years) Prior to 1940
    • Heirloom seeds must be open pollinated, but not all open pollinated are heirloom seeds.
    • Why Heirloom: Taste (No more pale tasteless tomatoes)
      • Stability (Characteristics stable from one year to next, plant will be like parent plant)
      • Expense
      • Hardiness
      • Seed Saving


  • Often called F1 in seed catalogs
    • A hybrid is created by crossing two different varieties of the same plant. Can result naturally if plants are not separated. Can also be intentional.  It is an attempt to tease out the best genetic traits of both parent plants and combine them in a hybrid seed. 
    • Seeds are unstable and can’t be used for saving as the will grow but likely will not be like parent plants. When a hybrid tomato (for example) produces its fruits, the seeds inside those fruits will carry genetics from both, or either parent plant. That means their traits will be less predictable. 
    • Must purchase new seeds every year
    • Tend to grow better and have higher yields than open pollinated seeds.
    • Offer higher disease resistance.
    • Improved Flavor in some cases.

Can you save Hybrid seeds?

Plants that grow from seed saved from hybrid plants generally are less vigorous, more variable, and usually have smaller blossoms and yield less than their parents.

Heirloom Vegetable Seeds Vs. Organic Seeds

Organic seeds refer to a growing practice (most likely without pesticides.) 

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