We have a promise to not buy or sell GMO or treated seed, but we do want to educate you on what exactly that is. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, basically a long process created in laboratories that involves adding genes of other organisms, whether they be plants, animals, bacteria, or even viruses into the structure of a plant. These are genetic changes that would never occur in nature, even over thousands of years of selection. Tampering with the genetic structure of an organism to introduce desirable traits is a risky and still largely unproven enterprise. That's why we have nothing to do with them at Park Seed!
Most people get GMOs and hybrids confused because the term 'hybrid' doesn't sound natural. Well, hybrid is an efficient form of selection. Let's say you have two tomatoes. One tomato is juicy, large, has a great yield, but it doesn't have very good disease resistance. Another tomato is just as large, has outstanding disease resistance, and is also crack resistant. We can take traits from this second tomato and link them with the first tomato to combine them. Then you have that great first tomato along with disease and crack resistance.
You will often read about hybridized vs. open-pollinated plants. Hybridized plants will rarely come true from seed. Because they have been selected for specific traits, their seeds may not have equal amounts of the good traits from both parents. So if you save their seed and then sow it, the plant it produces may not look or act exactly like its parent. Open-pollinated plants, on the other hand, have not been professionally selected, and will come true from seed. Most plants that simply have a genus and a species, with no variety name, will be open-pollinated and will come true from seed.
Heirloom plants are ones that you can re-seed using the seeds from that exact plant. Heirloom plants are original and unique. One of my favorite heirloom plants is our Rainbow Blend heirloom tomato. They are great for slicing, have an amazing taste, and are thick and juicy!
Planting hybrids and heirlooms will give you some of the best veggies you can imagine. Avoid unlabeled GMO produce at the grocery store by growing your own vegetables and fruits right in your own yard.
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By Stacey Hirvela, for Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
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