Choosing the Right Seeds

Choosing the Right Seeds

Seeds That Suit

In the world of seeds, understanding distinctions between various types helps design a garden that suits the needs of the gardener. From new varieties to heirloom and Demeter, each brings its unique characteristics. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, there’s something for everyone in the fascinating world of seeds. As a charity dedicated to protecting indigenous Irish wildflowers and working sympathetically with nature, it is essential that we offer organic, open pollinated seeds. From our crops of indigenous wildflowers to our imported organic vegetable, herb, and non-invasive-non-native flower seeds, we aim to be one of the best seed houses in the country.

We offer a sustainable and environmentally conscious choices for gardeners and farmers. Embracing the ethos of organic farming, we prioritise natural methods using natural plant feeds, pest controls and disease monitoring. Our commitment to providing organic, open-pollinated seeds extends to support growers who share a vision of ecological sustainability, biodiversity, and the cultivation of crops that don’t hurt the planet. As such, we can offer larger amount of seed by pre-order, please contact clare@trueharvestseeds.org for a quote. 

F1 Hybrid

Open Pollinated

Organic

Demeter

Heirloom

Origin-versus-Provenance

F1 Hybrid

This is a type of seed that we avoid and do not use it ourselves nor sell it, but we wanted to include it here for your information. First generation – F1 hybrid seeds result from the controlled crossbreeding of two distinct, purebred parental plants. This process involves deliberately selecting and crossing plants with specific desirable traits, such as disease resistance or high yield. The resulting F1 hybrid seeds inherit a combination of genetic characteristics from both parents, often displaying superior qualities like enhanced vigour or uniformity. While F1 hybrids can offer consistent growing habits, it’s important to note that saving seeds from these plants for the next generation will not produce viable seed. As a result, F1 hybrid seeds are typically purchased each growing season.
So, if you enjoy seed saving, F1 varieties are not suitable. You can tell if a packet of seed you are thinking of purchasing are F1 because they should be clearly marked as such on the packet.

A little experiment – tomato plant grown from seed sown last year from a shop bought tomato. It hasn’t produced flowers, but it has a new shoot, so we’ll see what happens!

Open Pollinated

Open-pollinated seeds refer to seeds produced by plants whose flowers are naturally pollinated by for example wind, insects, or gravity. They offer several benefits for both gardeners and the environment. Plants that are pollinated naturally produce fertile seeds, this facilitates greater genetic diversity within a plant population. The larger the population the better so seed producers grow at least up to 250 plants to maturity so that, in theory at least, the seeds contain the genetics of the whole population. This diversity helps plants do well in varied and evolving environmental conditions and can also increase resilience to pests and diseases.

Open pollinated plants produce viable seeds that, when saved, and replanted, they will grow into plants true to the parents. This allows gardeners to save seeds from their harvest for the next growing season. So, if you love a particular variety you can grow it on and on for many years which is a great option for self-sufficiency and sustainability. We use this method to produce native wildflower seed in order to keep the genetics of the wild population as wild as possible in an agricultural setting.

Organic

Organic seeds are seeds produced from plants grown using organic principles. It prioritises the use of natural and sustainable methods that prohibit the use of specific chemicals and genetically modified seeds. Full organic specifications can be found on local organic certifiers, such as the Soil Association or the Organic Trust. Generally, organic farming relies on techniques such as crop rotation, composting, and natural pest control to maintain soil health and promote biodiversity. Organic seeds play a crucial role in supporting environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture. Choosing organic seeds is a way for gardeners and farmers to align with practices that prioritise environmental conservation, promote healthier, more sustainable food systems and support organic seed producers.

Organic pea seeds in their pod

Demeter standard

Demeter seeds refer to seeds that comply with the standards set by Demeter International. It is one of the most rigorous certification systems globally, focusing not only on a ban on synthetic chemicals but also on fostering holistic and sustainable farming methods. They are produced in adherence to biodynamic principles, which include crop rotation, composting, and the use of seasonal rhythms in planting and harvesting. Choosing Demeter-certified organic seeds signifies a commitment to a comprehensive and regenerative approach to agriculture that goes beyond traditional organic practices.

Heirloom

Heirloom seeds belong to the group that are open-pollinated seeds. They occur either directly as species, or natural breeding techniques that have been passed down through multiple generations, often within a family or local community. These seeds are valued for their historical significance, as they can have a long and storied heritage. Heirloom plants typically produce offspring with traits true to the parent plant, allowing for the preservation of specific characteristics over time, maintained through natural or assisted pollination. Heirloom seeds are treasured for their diversity, resilience, unique flavours, and often for their cultural or historical connections. Preserving and sharing heirloom seeds helps maintain biodiversity and fosters a connection to the agricultural traditions of the past.

Origin versus Provenance

Unfortunately there is a new fashion in Ireland amongst seed importers to market imported seed of our native species as “Native Irish Wildflowers”. If you wish to avoid this trap you can ask your supplier if the seeds are of native origin. NB. Please be aware that the meaning of the word “Provenance” is not the same as “Origin” and it is the origin of the seed in question that needs to be confirmed.

Choosing the Right Seed

Hopefully this post has helped you decide which seeds are best suited to your ethos and needs! If you would like to browse our range of organic seeds you can do so by the following links:

Vegetable Seeds

Herb Seeds

Native Wildflower Seeds*

Wildflower Seed Mixes*

Non-native Flowers

We are invested in providing seed throughout our island. We send out fresh seed and carry out germination testing to ensure their viability. If you had any problem with our seed we offer a no-quibble money back, or replacement guarantee on your seeds. All profits are used to keep the charity going, so buy buying from us you are supporting native wildflower conservation work, thank you in advance.

* We have always used organic principles when producing our wildflower seeds, However, we completed our organic certification with Soil Association in April of 2022 so some of our native wildflowers are still in conversion.

Sharing your stories

We are keen to hear from our plant loving community and we want to include everyone, if you have an interesting story and want share it please get in touch. To get involved and get your story out there please contact kathryn@trueharvestseeds.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

Citations

https://www.soilassociation.org/

https://demeter.net/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/vegetables/f1-hybrids

https://www.britannica.com/topic/heirloom-plant

Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a difference.

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We are searching for a Fundraising Trustee to help us raise capital for The Native Irish Seed Vault, if you are interested, please get in touch via debbie@trueharvestseeds.org

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