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Know Your Seed

What is a heirloom?

Although definitions vary, a heirloom seed is a seed that was handed down from generation to generation. Not just in families but also between gardeners and/or sold by seed companies. Heirlooms could have developed through natural selection or specific breeding and selection by humans. A heirloom will always be special with specific characteristics, else the seeds would never have been passed on from year to year and person to person. Some heirloom seed origins can be traced back more than a thousand years, whilst some heirlooms can be traced back a mere few decades or so. By definition a heirloom vegetable seed will always be open pollinated.


What does open pollinated mean?

In short open pollinated means that the vegetable grown from seed will be the same as the vegetable you took the seed from, provided you followed the correct isolation and population density procedures for the type of vegetable during seed production. Hybrid vegetable seed, which are mostly available from commercial seed companies, are not open pollinated.


What is a Hybrid?

A hybrid is a cross between vegetables of the same species and types to produce a vegetable with very specific characteristics usually aimed to deliver on mass consumer preferences including:

  • Uniformity - think the similar sizes of tomatoes in pre-packed trays.
  • Blemish free, to a point where fresh vegetables could be mistaken for plastic goods.
  • High and fast maturing yields.
  • Relatively longer shelf lives.

Hybrids have an important role to play in food security and now and again certain hybrids are developed that is really just great. However, hybrid seed is not an optimum choice for the discerning vegetable grower. The characteristics mentioned above make sense for commercial vegetable growers as well as the retail chain stores, but, unfortunately for you the consumer...they forgot all about the taste!

The reality is that all of the good characteristics of the hybrids can also be found in open pollinated seeds, but one thing is for sure the taste and diversity of heirloom vegetables far outweigh the commercial appeal of hybrid vegetables. When we do find hybrid seeds that deliver on taste and are not genetically modified, we will make it available with our range. However, these will have to be very, very special.


What is GM seeds (Genetically Modified)?

Genetic Modification is in short methods whereby  very clever scientists alter the genetic make up of plants through inserting genes from other plants,  many times not even of the same species, in order to produce new plants with specific characteristics.


Genetic Modification is highly controversial for numerous reasons such as:

  • Un-known impact on the natural environment,
  • Human health, the
  • Strong suspicion of sinister motives behind the genetic modification
  • Developing of agricultural plant material resistant to certain extremely harmful chemicals which has the effect that these harmful chemicals are being used on plants in commercial agriculture and invariably find its way into the food chain.


We urge people to err on the cautious side in light of previously mentioned controversies.  At Glen Seeds we will not knowingly sell any Genetically Modified plant materials.