Less Noise, More Green: Urban Farming and Hybrid Seeds

Friday, February 28, 2014

Urban Farming and Hybrid Seeds

Urban farming and Hybrid Seeds
This second crop of cabbage didn't mature before the first frost.

Hello, my name is Sue and I plant hybrid seeds.

I must confess, I'm a little nervous writing this post because seed selection has become such a hot button issue and people are very passionate (and vocal) about the subject. There is also a LOT of misinformation out there, especially on the internet, concerning seeds so I encourage you to do your own research on this topic and stick to educational sites, especially university extensions. Look for URLs that end with .edu. You will find quality information that will allow you to make your own judgements.




Urban Farming and Hybrid Seeds
This was my only butternut squash. It died when the plant became diseased.


Here are some very quick definitions of the types of seeds I am talking about in this post:

Open Pollinated Seeds have been pollinated by natural means ( insects, wind, etc.) which allows for genetic diversification and ultimately stronger, adaptable plants. Seeds saved from these plants will be true to their parents. Natural hybridization can occur when insects cross pollinate two varieties of the same species of plant.

Heirloom Seeds are open pollinated seeds that have been saved and passed down through the generations. Heirlooms often have better taste and nutrition than hybrids.

Hybrid Seeds result when two varieties of plant have been intentionally cross pollinated by humans. This agricultural technique is very old. Today, commercial hybrid seeds are often labelled F1. Hybridization is done to create a desired trait in the plant. This can be disease resistance, plant size or days to maturity. The result is often more vigorous plants but the down side is the seeds are not saveable for the next season. Hybridization is not Genetic Modification.

urban farming and hybrid seeds
My summer squash harvest was pitiful last year due to disease.

I love heirloom vegetables. I love the history behind the plant and the taste can be really superior to hybrids. I have grown heirlooms and open pollinated varieties for years and will continue to do so. I have, however, certain crops that fail on me year after year. As a vegetable grower this is so frustrating!  Urban farming can be really challenging. I have limited access to both space and light. I live in New England where our growing season is very short and our hot humid summers are perfect for disease.

After many years of disappointment and trial and error with open pollinated varieties of both summer and winter squashes, peppers and cucumbers and too short a growing season for two plantings of crops like cabbage, I will be experimenting with hybrid varieties this year.

Urban Farming and Hybrid Seeds
I'm hoping hybrid varieties will address some of my urban farming challenges.
The varieties I have chosen will hopefully address my gardening challenges.  Short growing times for peppers and cabbage, space saving bush or container approved varieties of squash and disease resistance in the cucumbers and squash.

Urban Farming and hybrid seeds, powdery mildew
Powdery mildew was the source of much anguish for me last season.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I would rather grow open pollinated varieties of these vegetables but it is time to try a different way and hopefully, finally get results!

spinach bolting under grow lights
This is one of my grow light spinach plants that bolted. I tried pinching the flower off the plant in an attempt to out wit Mother Nature. Just like a Hydra, the plant grew back two heads! I think I just got firmly put in my place!


Are you growing any hybrid varieties this year? How do you chose your seeds?

Sue 






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