Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Do You Need Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening?

Starting Off on the Right Foot or Unnecessary Expense?

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer: If you’re going to be an organic gardener, you ought to plant organic seeds. But it would really be better to say: if you’re going to buy organic products, put organic seeds on your shopping list. For home gardeners, the reason to choose organic seeds is to support organic agriculture. It has very little to do with the seeds themselves. Why does this matter? Because it means you can organically grow whatever you want. From the garden’s point of view, one bundle of genetic material is pretty much like another (assuming said bundle is good of its kind and has not been treated with fungicide or otherwise messed-with post harvest).* So although organic seed is preferable when available, insisting on its exclusive use is a little like removing your nose in order to spite your face.

In many cases, the organic version is available, especially if it’s a common vegetable. But uncommon heirlooms are another story; vast numbers of interesting flowers have not yet been included, and the number of organically grown hybrids is still mighty petite.

I shall stand back now and wait for the anti-hybrid avalanche to roll by, hating hybrids being all the rage these days. Well, ok. Hybrid seeds cannot be saved from year to year; you have to keep buying new ones.** (Like many organic seeds, btw) hybrids are mostly produced by large corporations whose interest in sustainability is entirely market-driven, to the extent that it exists. But this doesn’t make hybrids Darth Vader.

In fact, hybrids bred for disease resistance are an environmental plus when they help you use less biocide. Pesticides and fungicides approved for organic gardening are still a long way from benign.

And while it’s true that a great many hybrids don’t taste very good, flavor having been sacrificed for qualities like heavy cropping and long shelf life, it’s also true that some of the tastiest vegetables in all creation are hybrid varieties: Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, Silver Queen corn, Confection winter squash – we just had some for dinner last night. It was terrific.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

One thought on “Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)”

  1. We live in an era in which we may lose up to 80% of the world’s genetic diversity in agriculture, a diversity it took mankind 10,000 years to create. We need this diversity to sustain our agriculture into the future. The fact is most of this diversity is not certified organic. Help us live long enough into the future when all agriculture is safe (organic) by finding varieties of plants that do well in your own garden wether they are organic or not and then learning to save the seeds. You are able to save the seeds from hybrids if you want to pay attention to at least 8 generation of offspring, or long enough to stabilize the lines. You can find free seed saving instructions here:

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