Hybrids, Heirlooms and Organics: What’s the difference?

Someone recently asked, “What’s the difference between hybrid, heirloom, and organic gardening?” Here is the answer.

Hybrid Vegetables

Hybrid vegetables are the result of selective crosspollination to produce a desired trait.  There are many good hybrid plants on the market that produce great vegetables.  My grandfather swears by his Better Boy tomatoes. 

However, hybrids are only good for one year because the seeds are of poor quality due to the plant reverting back to it’s parent’s traits – it will not produce the same plant as the original hybrid. The seed may produce a plant, but it isn’t true to the original plant.

Heirloom Vegetables

If you want to be able to seed last year’s harvest and get the same or better plant for the next season, you will need heirloom vegetables.  Like the name implies, many heirloom varieties have been passed down for generations. Thus they are tried and true varieties.

Heirlooms will not get as big and pretty as hybrids, but they will be a much tastier vegetable.

Organic Plants

You often hear organic together with heirloom.  What’s the difference?  Organic refers to the way you grow the plant, regardless of whether it’s heirloom or hybrid. 

Organic plants are grown with only natural fertilizers and pesticides, as apposed to growing plants in chemicals.  Our family has chickens, which readily produce manure, a excellent fertilizer.  It is also great to have a compost pile near your house to discard your natural waste.

What About GMOs?

Stay away from GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). GMOs are living organisms that have had their DNA tinkered with using genetic engineering techniques.  This author believes when “God saw it was good “ he meant it, and nothing good can come of changing it.

Expert Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, links GMO to “toxins, allergies, infertility, infant mortality, immune dysfunction, stunted growth, and death” (www.seedsofdeception.com).

Currently, corn, soybean, and cotton are the only genetically modified plants that are on the market at this time in America. It is important to read the labels on packaged food because many everyday staple items include corn products. You will find corn in products throughout the store: cornmeal, chips, cereals, etc.  Vegetable oil is another name for corn oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil.

Be sure to order your seeds as soon as possible because as February and March approach, many of the best vegetables will sell out.  Check out the links below.

By Hunter Harris

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  1. I dont understand how a hybrid seed reverts back to heirloom? I have used hybrid seeds to grow the following season. Does this mean they were heirlooms the following season?

    1. Hybrids do not revert back to heirloom Stacie. Sorry for any confusion there. Hybrid seeds will produce again, but you won’t get the same plant as the original plant – the plant reverts back to it’s parent’s traits, but they will be different than the original plant.

  2. Yes I have the same name as you. Maiden name. Stacie Harris. Now Iam Stacie Young. A cousin linked me to your site because im a gardener and she saw we had the same name.

    1. That’s really cool. I am glad that your cousin introduced you to the site. I love that you are a gardener. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on the site.

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