Explaining Seed Offerings

OPEN POLLINATED SEED—  Open pollinated can mean multiple ways of achieving pollination like through wind, insects and animal or human activities. Because of this, OP plants are considered more genetically diverse. It can involve self-pollination or pollination by another plant of the same variety. As long as they pollinate within the same variety of the same species, the seeds produced will be fairly identical with their parents.

HYBRID SEED—comes from cross-pollinating two (or more) varieties of plants that are usually of the same species which is a fairly natural occurrence in nature but over a longer time scale and with more vagary. Hybrids will not reproduce themselves well (too much variation) and have to be re-created by the same initial cross for every crop in order to get the desired seed cultivar to sell it to you.

“HEIRLOOM SEED”, those that have been passed down in a community or family and must be open-pollinated.  Just being OP doesn’t make something an “Heirloom”.

ORGANIC SEED —produced by a certified organic grower neither using nor exposed to any chemicals during its field growth, seed harvest and processing for sale.  Seed distributors of organic seed should be expected to likewise handle and keep such seed separate from treated and non-organic seed so there is no cross-contamination.

GMO SEED- Genetically Modified Organism.  GMO seed — we frequently think of Roundup Ready seed almost immediately — has foreign genetic material inserted in its DNA. It is found normally in large commercial crops like soybeans or corn.  Despite its apparent current usefulness to large scale growers (and to Monsanto) in the short term as far as weed control, we simply do not know the long term impact on our environment or on other plants and animals.  Therefore, many people are looking for Non-GMO seeds out of concern.

Many large scale growers, to increase yields and deter environmental stressors, use treated seeds to control bacteria, fungi, insects and other pests that kill seedlings. The seeds are pre-treated with particular chemicals, often dusted on just prior to packaging,  Some  are fungicides that prevent fungal diseases like seed rotting, damping off. Some are repellents against pests and ectoparasiticides, used especially on seeds for various grain crops.  Neonicontinoids  have been a prevalent treatment used on seeds. Many of the big Chem-Ag concerns and large scale farmers are against the regulations on Neonics (contributor to honeybee colony collapse) due to the large crop yield benefits from its continued use… Aside from grains, commonly treated seeds due to known problems are legumes, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

UNTREATED SEED- Seed that is usually grown under normal, conventional, commercial growing conditions.

Seeds are coated to make them uniformly round, especially good for naturally small seeds. They work well with mechanical seeders.  It is easy to hand space them, so less thinning later and enables uniform rows. With pelleted root crops (carrots, parsnip, onions), less deformity occurs in the roots.Such seed is often used to grow plant plugs. Some pelleted seed comes primed.

PRIMED SEED gives  an advantage. Seeds are pre-soaked before planting, may germinate 50 times faster than unprimed seed and emerge quickly to the soil surface getting a head start.  In cases where soil crusting over can hinder later emergence, priming is helpful and it can help against those soil borne diseases that interfere with germination and subsurface seed growth. However primed seed such as you purchase in pellets,  does not have long storage life, so you should use it quickly (year purchased).

SEED TAPES are simply a distribution method for planting seeds on a biodegradable tape where the seed are glued (organically) in an evenly spaced manner according to recommendations. They are just unrolled in a furrow and covered. This can be helpful to people with mobility issues or arthritis where continued bending or squatting can be problematic or simply as a time saver. And no worries about thinning and it’s good for row planting.  It is inexpensive and easy to make your own.

SEED BOMBS OR SEED BALLS- Seeds hidden in balls of some kind of absorbent matrix (clay/compost/soil) that is allowed to dry. This coating  soaks up natural moisture, keeping the seeds hydrated and prevents critters or birds from getting to the seeds.  Often seeds are usually some sort of tough native wildflower– annuals or perennials –though Native Americans did this with their corn plantings, packing them in mud balls. And a famous Japanese farmer is using this as a no-till planting method for his veggies and grains. These balls can get “lobbed over fences” into abandoned lots, meadows, roadside strips where they lay on the soil surface until the seedlings break through and take hold in the soil. Think of it as “Guerrilla Beautification”.   Or use them in your garden, placed carefully where you want the plants to grow.

Seed Ball/Seed bomb by Herder3