seed_packet_juliet.jpgA friend asked me a question last summer that kind of blew my mind. “If we can’t expect seeds from hybrid tomatoes to ‘come true,’ then where do they get hybrid seeds from year after year?”

Now, I definitely knew (or thought I did) what a hybrid was, and I had a canned answer for anyone who asked how hybrid varieties were made (well, breeders cross two varieties to come up with a new one). But I realized I hadn’t really ever understood the nitty gritty of hybrid seed production. I intended to hunker down and do some research, but it kept falling way down on the to do list until I started perusing this year’s seed catalogs, considering the varieties I wanted to try. When I order Sungold seeds each year, the seed company doesn’t have to continually grow the parent plants and cross them to get new seeds, right? That would be terribly labor intensive and it seems the seeds would be ridiculously expensive! Well, as it turns out, that is exactly what they do. If you’re curious to learn more, read on! (more…)

Q: What’s the difference between hybrid, heirloom, vintage, and heritage plants? I see these terms used in gardening catalogs and articles, but I have no idea what they mean.

A: Coming across these terms can be confusing to anyone. They are used in describing all types of plants, but you’ve probably noticed them most often used when referring to vegetable varieties. Let’s see if we can provide some clear definitions. (more…)