Seed Orders In!

I finished making my major seed orders last night.  There were a couple of missing items–Marvel of Venice pole beans are back-ordered through Johnny’s, so I may have to just call them tomorrow and see if I can’t get on the list for when they come in (this isn’t possible on the website).  As long as I can get my hands on the seed this year, I can start saving some for subsequent years’ crops.

Golden beets (both varieties) through Johnny’s were also either back ordered or the crop failed, so I’ll probably have to look at what other places are offering. I’ve got red beets on order, but I’d like to do the golden this year, too.

But everything that’s either direct-seeded or started in flats early was in and is on order–the onions, sugar snaps (the real deal this time–not “Super” Sugar Snap, which I haven’t found to be super at all), extra salad mix seed, and more.

I’m growing fewer hybrids this year–I’ve gone to all-open-pollinated on beets, peppers, and a couple other crops as well.  I’m trying a new variety of open-pollinated white spring turnip along with my usual Hakurei hybrid to see if that can be a switch for next year.

But I do want to say a word in defense of hybrids, as I’m seeing so many new gardeners totally eschew them for various reasons–some related to GMOs (which traditional F1 hybrids have nothing to do with) and some related to worries about inability to save seeds.

First of all, you can save seeds from hybrids.  You won’t get exactly the same thing when you grow out the seed (though sometimes it’s hard to tell any difference), but most hybrids I’ve encountered are not sterile–and most that I’ve grown out (either on purpose or by accident) are of decent eating quality as well.

Too, there are a lot of crops that beginning gardeners are not very likely to be growing out for seed–biennials like carrots and beets, especially.  In order to grow out most biennials for seed in cold climates, a gardener has to save back those crops in a crisper or root cellar and re-plant them in spring.

Also, for some of them, common weeds are closely related enough to cross with the seed crop if isolation methods aren’t practiced.  And then there is the problem of having enough of the crop in seed production to provide a decent genetic sampling for the next generation.

This isn’t to say that beginning gardeners shouldn’t attempt to save seeds, but only to suggest that with certain crops, the benefits of hybrid vigor (and possibly getting a larger food crop) may outweigh the difficulty in getting a decent seed crop from either an open-pollinated or hybrid.

In that case, it might be worthwhile to try a hybrid.  It may also be worthwhile if the crop you’re growing is marginal in your area–I have sampled many non-hybrid eggplant varieties, for instance, and have only found one that actually does well for me here–and it’s one I don’t even really like.

But at the same time, I’ve tried several hybrid okras that are supposedly bred for the North, and I’m going back this year to the real old-time cowhorn okra–it gets eight feet tall and seems not to care about heavy clay soil.  I just might need to have H help me harvest the topmost pods later in the season!

All this is to say that beginning gardeners shouldn’t entirely avoid hybrids just on principle–take stock of your own soil, climate, and capabilities and order accordingly.

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