When people interested in saving their garden seeds approach us about seed saving we find that the information we have is a bit overwhelming at first. We have as many questions for them as they probably have for us! So we find it best to start with a simple seed lesson because one of our first questions we ask is: "Where did your original seed come from and do you know the name of the variety you wish to save?".
Sometimes we receive confused looks and "it's none of your business" sneers. I swear we aren't asking because we are trying to say your seed purchasing choice is poor. We simply are interested in whether or not the variety is an heirloom or a hybrid. Many people do not know the difference or why it is important to differentiate. We have nothing against growing a hybrid seed, hybrid seeds can turn into wonderful heirloom varieties eventually. But, knowing the difference is what can help create a new heirloom variety and adding to biodiversity versus flattening biodiversity.
So let's start with some basic definitions:
Heirloom: An open pollinated (through wind, insects or self) plant that has been passed down from generation to generation maintaining it's true to type characteristics. Seed can be saved from year to year with the same result.
Hybrid: A controlled cross pollinated plant that is only available for use once. A first generation hybrid plant will not produce the same characteristics year to year. New seed must be made and purchased every year.
Each time someone plants an heirloom variety, saves the seed and replants that seed, the stronger and more adapted to it's environment the plant gets. This adaptability of plants helps keep our world biodiverse. Biodiversity is not just a buzz word here. Biodiversity ensures that in the face of a changing planet, changing climates and unpredictable natural events, the food supply will continue to thrive.
Flatten biodiversity and the food supply flattens as well. Just like animals, there are hundreds of endangered plants and many more extinct ones. There is quite a bit of information about the importance of biodiversity and what many are doing to preserve it. So I will leave that to the professionals!
A simple reason to plant an heirloom seed is you know exactly what you will be getting each time you plant it. If you remember those tomato sandwiches or those pumpkin pies from your childhood, you can recreate them by growing the exact tomato or cheese pumpkin. Nostalgia goes a long way. But let's say, you are more adventurous and want to try new things...you are in luck. Today, there are over 8000 different varieties of tomatoes you can try!
The process of de-hybridization can be very fulfilling if you wish to dabble in the the science of breeding. (That's a whole other kettle of fish). Most people we talk to simply want to plant their gardens and enjoy the fruit of their labor. A hybrid pack of seeds or transplant can definitely help you on your way. But, your joy will be short lived and you may be left feeling like you were taken for a ride. Most are simply one hit wonders.
Hybrid "varieties" have become so popular that many mask their origins behind their names. Varieties like Sun Gold, Early Girl, Napa Grape, and Fairy Tale have to be produced every year by big seed companies. So how do you determine if the seeds or transplant are heirloom or hybrid? Ask!
As farmers, it is part of our job to help educate customers on what they are purchasing. We want to ensure that you know all the facts so an informed decision can be made and we encourage questions.
We do not wish to preach to anyone about what they plant in their gardens. The important part of this article is learning the difference. And if you do not wish to plant anything and still want to partake in those tomato sandwiches...we can help you with that. 350 different heirloom tomato varieties are growing as we speak in our dirt...and we are happy to share.
First and foremost, we want to wish all of you a very happy Spring! We knew it would arrive sooner or later. We are in full swing at the farm planting and prepping for the amazing Long Island vegetable seasons ahead.
April is knocking at the door which means that there is a limited amount of time left to purchase your Invincible Summer Farms vegetable plants. This year we are offering a HUGE selection of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potted herbs. Hurry! The last day to order to guarantee your selections is April 10. This year we will have two local pick up locations (Setauket, NY and Southold, NY) or you can have your plants delivered right to your door!
Spots are filling up quickly for our 2015 Tomato CSA! Don't be left behind this year! 10 weeks of heavenly ISF tomatoes delivered to your door each week. No shopping bags, no forgetting your cash, no parking issues...just FRESH tomatoes at the peak of Long Island tomato season! (Plus some pretty great member advantages!)
We are now selling the famous Invincible Summer Farm heirloom plants! We have rare and unique tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings you won’t find anywhere else. All plants grown are from our own seed, sourced globally from noted breeders and seed savers.
For Spring 2015, we are encouraging the public to PRE-ORDER their plants. You can easily browse our selection from the comfort of your own home and if you don't see the plant you're looking for, CONTACT US.
Pre-ordering is easy and convenient. We even offer delivery to all of Long Island, NYC, the 5 Boroughs, Westchester and parts of New Jersey. Local pick up in the spring is free.
Order soon before your favorites sell out! Start planning your garden now!
You won't find Sungolds or any other corporate hybrids! Our plants are open-pollinated, all the time!
Okra seed harvest hanging in the new barn we should have about 6 different kinds for sale in the 2015 catalog!
Here's a sneak peek at some excellent tomato varieties we will have available for seed purchase this winter! Stay tuned! They are all super delicious!