Friday, October 10, 2014

Do you only have to grow heirloom seeds?

Do you only have to grow heirloom seeds?

I have gotten into a debate with the seed bank and seed vault people again. This time it is over the need to only grow heirloom seeds. The thinking is that you only want to save seeds that are pure and will reproduce the same crop year after year. This sounds good in theory and I myself use mostly heirloom plants and seeds. However, there are some cases where I do not. For example, I have some potato and sweet potato that are hybrids. In fact many of my tubers are hybrids, which is ok because I plant tubers to produce more tubers of the same genetic stock. Other people have done a lot of work so I can enjoy these great hybrids in my high calorie garden.

Another area where I look at hybrids is disease and insect resistance. Let’s look at an item that is in almost every seed vault or seed bank. That item is the tomato. Now one tomato will yield a lot of seeds. So with both tomatoes and peppers I tend to bag my flowers and hand pollenate. I collect the pollen I want on a Q-tip and let it dry. I will then apply this pollen to other flowers. Both the pollen donator and receiver had been bagged with a thin layer of insect cloth. So I can grow hybrids and heirlooms side by side with no problem. Now the other fact that should be factored in is how long the seed is viable. If I have good tomato seed stored at the right moisture content and humidity it can last ten years or more. So I do not purchase hybrid seed every year. Many times I can purchase a popular hybrid tomato in bulk and divide the seeds for future years. Think of it as my own little seed vault or seed bank.

So I hope I have made you think about hybrid seeds as a viable option in a high calorie garden. If SHTF you would likely want to save your first crops of hybrid plants for seeds in your first year. So you would likely not get as high a yield from your heirlooms since they would have matured fully to produce maximum seed yield. In some cases with your biannual plants you will not be able to eat them because they seed in their second year.  Saving seeds is something I will talk about in the future.

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