Heirloom vs. Hybrid Vegetable Seed

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When choosing what varieties of seed to plant in your garden this Spring, whether it be online or from your local seed store the biggest question is whether you will plant Heirloom or Hybrid seed. Heirloom seeds are those that have been saved and passed down over time and must be open-pollinated. Open-pollination is the natural way of a plant becoming pollinated by the wind, rain, bees and birds. These heirloom seeds are more likely to get diseases and have larger, oddly shaped fruit. One thing to consider is not all Heirlooms are going to thrive in the Piedmont climate. Picking Heirlooms that are from this region are crucial to having a successful growing season. Some examples of heirloom varieties are German Johnson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes. 

Hybrid seeds are those which have been created by selecting traits from multiple varieties of a vegetable. These seeds can be saved but will not be exact to the same seed you planted. Hybrid seeds are normally bred to have better yielding fruit, shelf life and disease resistance and have an earlier harvest date than heirloom seed. The main purpose of Hybrid seeds was to allow the farmer  to be able to harvest all at one time and reduce input cost on products to help with growing their crops. The only cons to hybrid seed are you may lose the flavor and nutrition that heirlooms have and they can be more expensive to buy. 

If you are new to gardening or want to expand the varieties you grow, I recommend doing your research on the seed you are thinking about growing. Trying different varieties is a great way to see what is best for your preference and makes for an exciting growing season for new varieties.