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Seeds: GMO, Non GMO, F1, Hybrid, organic

Buying seeds can be confusing. Seeds: GMO, NON GMO, F1, Hybrid, Organic. What are you really getting and are some worth the extra money?

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SeedsSeeds GMO, non GMO, F1, Hybrid, organic

Spring is here and you have decided to start your new garden. It is an exciting time, full of great expectations.

Now you are facing the decision of not only what kinds of vegetables you want but also what kind of seeds.  It can be confusing and a bit overwhelming 

Let break it down.

Seeds GMO non GMO hybrid organic
Vegetable seeds

GMO seeds are Genetically modified organisms.  

These are seeds that have been created by scientists in a lab using genetic engineering techniques.  This type of seed ( and foods) are becoming more controversial.  There are compelling arguments on both sides.  I will leave that for another day.  If you want to learn more about the science behind both sides please read this article from Purdue University .

For now, we are just discussing what the term means.  Scientists in a lab are able to take certain desirable traits and make them more dominant while helping to eliminate less desirable traits.   I.E. consistent uniform looking produce, drought resistants, faster-growing, etc

 Seeds GMO, non GMO

Squash seeds

Non-GMO seeds 

Seeds produced through natural cultivation processes.  This process would include; wind, insects birds or other natural means.

Please note non-GMO does not mean that is was raised without the use of pesticides! Non-GMO plants/seeds can be grown with all the same kinds of heavy chemical use that most of us work so hard to avoid!


Non-GMO types of seeds fall into three different categories:

Hybrid/F1, open polluted and heirloom

Hybrid or F1 seeds are cultivated through a very carefully controlled cross-pollution of two parent plants.  Through this method, a new hybrid seed is created with specific characteristics from both parents. The purpose of this method is to produce a single generation of better seeds.

F1 seeds are NOT GMOs.

F1 seeds are grown and selectively breed through traditional, natural means.  It is similar to a farmer breeding his two best meat pigs together to produce the best offspring for meat.

It is important to know that F1 seed can not be used for seed saving.  The seeds from the F1 plant will produce a plant like one of its parent plants, not the plant you saved the seed from.


Pepper seeds

Open-pollinated seeds are seeds by natural, random pollinated plants.  Wind, insect, and birds pollinate the plants and the seeds are harvested.  This is the most natural way.  All open-pollinated seeds can be saved from one season to the next with great results.


Tomato seeds

Heirloom seeds are always open-pollinated.  They are seeds from plants and plant varieties that have been used and handed down throughout many generations.  

Ironically these old varieties don’t often produce vegetables that look like we have been lend to believe are “classic” looking vegetables.  However, looks can be deceiving, because they are often considered to produce the most flavorful of any of the seeds varieties.

Then there is a whole separate clarification…Organic

Organic means have grown naturally and with no or limited pesticides.

Organic, as regulated by the USDA, always means non-GMO.

( There is a small loophole in food packaging so to be sure look for both organic and non-GMO or 100% organic labels).

In my research, I came across this interesting chart

 Seeds organic vs non organic

Organic vs non organic

 It is a surprise to me that when I pay extra for non-GMO I could still be getting the things I am trying to eliminate.

So in conclusion:

GMO Seeds

  •    Lab-created
  •    Uniform produce
  •    New varieties   
  •    Undesirable traits genetically engineered out
  •    Positive traits genetically engineered in
  •    Not suitable for seed saving

Hybrid or F1

  •    Controlled but traditional cross-pollination  
  •    Some undesirable traits breed out
  •    Some desirable traits breed in
  •    New varieties  
  •    Can be from plants grown with the use of pesticides  
  •    Not suitable for seeds saving


  •    Natural pollination methods used
  •    Can be from plants grown with the use of pesticides  
  •    Great for seed saving


  •    Always open pollination  
  •    Can be from plants grown with the use of pesticides  
  •    Old varieties handed down through generations 
  •    Not always traditional-looking or uniform produce
  •    Great for seed saving


  •    Always non- GMO
  •    No pesticides used
  •    Great for seed saving if not F1 variety 

I hope this helped clear up some common but commonly miss understood terms.

Once you are ready to plant your seeds make sure you check out organic vs non organic potting soil to find out what the best choice is for you

Air purifier with planter

Have fun planning your gardens  

Please check out my new book


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