Organic Seeds Basics

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You know your soil is "clean", that your soil is not contaminated in any way because you got your soil tested, so now you�re looking for some organic seeds to plant. At this point you are probably asking yourself, "How do I know that the seeds I am buying are organically grown and where is the best place to buy my seeds?"

Well, you can wait till the last minute and chance buying your seeds at your nursery or such places as Canadian Tire or Home Hardware. However, your best bet is to plan ahead and order via seed catalogs so that you can identify whether the company's seeds are organically grown.

When looking for companies, look for those who have labels for the seeds which they grow and sell. Those who grow and sell organic seeds will use one or more of these labels: U for untreated, O for organic, OP for open-pollinated, and H for heritage.

Untreated seeds (U) are seeds which have not been coated with chemicals that are harmful to soil, life, and humans.

Also, organic growers refuse to plant any seeds that have been genetically modified, that is, seeds in which the genes of anything from a pesticide-resistant weed to an animal or even bacterium have been inserted or spliced right into the seeds' DNA for two reasons:

Organic growers have no idea whether these injected genes will mutate into something that will endanger a person's health, such as create different allergens in the food, damage the liver or the kidneys, combine with the good bacteria in the gut to create its own version, etc.

The second reason concerns the environment. Once introduced into the environment, no one can predict where the wind will carry the GMO seeds, and there could be irreparable damage done if these genetically engineered plants cross breed with wild ones.

Organic seeds (O) come from plants which have been grown via organic methods.

Open-pollinated (OP) is the best type of seed because these seeds are capable of reproducing themselves. You can save the seeds from these plants, let them dry off, store them in plastic bags, and use them the following year.

Hybrid seeds, even though they are open-pollinated seeds, do not always reproduce true to type. The hybrid seeds will grow, but you might have some variance in your results, so if you want the exact same type of plant, it�s usually necessary to buy new seed every year. The company will usually identify those hybrid seeds which do reproduce true to type.

Heritage seeds (H) are a little more difficult to find, for they are not necessarily sold in mainstream seed catalogs.

Heritage seeds have been passed down from generation to generation and are usually a collector's item. These organic seeds are generally sold through small seed companies and seed saving organizations who try their best to keep them in circulation to preserve a diminishing genetic diversity. Often people who are interested in heritage seed will find other people who are willing to exchange seeds and thus grow their little collection.

If interested in conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the diversity of open-pollinated plants where members are encouraged to save and exchange seeds, please contact one of the following for more information:

Seeds of Diversity Canada, SoDC, Box 36, Stn. Q, Toronto ON M4T 2L7; voice mail (905) 623-0353 or Seed Savers Exchange, a large US organization that promotes seed saving, at SSE, 3026 North Winn Road, Decorah IA 52101 USA.

You can always google "organic seeds + your location" to find a place close to you where you can find companies who grow and sell seeds for those interested in only Gardening, the best way to produce big, healthy, nutritious vegetables.

Gardening Articles:

A gardener for years, Marcie has learned that using organic seeds is a must for healthy, nutritious vegetables. Get more information about companies who are popular for growing and selling organic seeds at

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