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I've been gardening most of my life, but I do not know what these two words mean. I was one of those organic gardeners that went to the store, bought the seeds or plants, planted and grew them without any commercial fertilizers. Thanks to this board, I have learned that I have alot more to learn :p . I am waiting on my seed catalogs to arrive and I need to know the definition of "open pollinated" and "heirloom" before I decide to order seeds or not. I'm assuming heirloom has something to do with old seeds. Why would anyone want old seeds? Forgive me for the stupid questions, but I gotta start somewhere! :)
Heather
 

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Heather, open pollinated means that if you save the seeds produced by something you planted and grew, then plant that seed the next year you will get a plant EXACTLY the same as the previous year. Every time, every year, so you only have to buy the seed once to have the same plant every year thereafter. Heirlooms Usually are open pollinated. They are old varieties that have fallen out of popular use but usually have excellent flavor, production, whatever, just gotten scarce over the years. Unless stated on the package of seed most seed you buy in the stores are hybrid which means if you save the seed from the plants you grow, then plant them the next year the likelihood of growing the Exact same plant as previous is not good and the production will not usually be very good either. Most hard core organic gardeners will not use seed unless the seed itself was grown organically, is open pollinated, and not genetically modified in any way.
 

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We're gettin' there!
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks to both of you for the explanations. Now I know why I can't the seed I save from one year to do much of anything the next year. I'll know better this year. I sure wish my seed catalogs would get here! :(
Heather
 

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You're sure welcome, BLHM! Once those seed catalogs come in, look for the words "hybrid" OR "F1". BOTH of those mean hybrid. Your best bet if you want to get OP seed for sure is look for those words or "OP".

And if you want to save those seed, the best book I've found is Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. It's WELL worth the $20. She tells you which plants will cross with which, how to keep them from doing it, how to dry those seeds and even how to store them. Some veggies won't need to have any thing special done to them, like most tomatoes (potato-leaved varieties are the exception) while others will be a bit more labor intensive. Squash comes to mind. Squash will cross with anything that looks at them funny, so you'll have to watch for the blooms that look like they'll open the next day, then tape them the night before, untape them the next day, hand pollinate, retape and mark that stem so you'll know which fruit contains pure seed. But it's not that bad and kind of fun once you get the hang of it.

Good luck!
 

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I agree with Wingnut - Seed To Seed is THE book about the process of saving seed. You will recoup the price of the book, probably, in your first season of seed saving.
 
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