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Why grow 'Real Seed'?

We only supply Real, Open Pollinated seed. No Hybrids & no GM seed. Here's why:

Real Seed breeds true, so you can save your own seed.

But that's not the only reason . . . real vegetable seed is better:

Hybrid ("F1") seed is the result of a cross between two different , but heavily inbred parents. Seed you save from these plants will either be sterile or a give a whole mix of shapes and types, usually producing a poor crop.

Only the seed company knows what the parents are, thus only they can produce that particular variety. If you want to grow it, you have no other source - good for the seed companies but not for you! Small growers should be able to keep their own seeds, selecting each year the best plants most suitable for their own land and conditions.

Yes, there are a few exceptions, but in general, the hybrid seed business has been a public relations victory over the small grower. For example, you will soon see more and more hybrid leek seed offered to you. This is because the supermarkets have set incredibly rigid limits on leek size, and the only way to achieve this is through hybridising two inbred varieties, so all leek seed production is switching to hybrids.

You will be told that these new leeks are 'more uniform', 'straighter' and so on. But what about flavour and adaptability? People seem to forget that we want to eat & enjoy these things - food is not just a commodity!

Despite common urban myths, there is no magic about hybrids. So-called "hybrid vigour" is the simple fact that good hybrid seed is better than bad real seed, and that sadly much of the real seed you get now has been badly maintained. But good real seed - which admittedly requires time, care and patience to produce and maintain - must, by virtue of the genetics of these things, be just as good, and in fact much more adaptable to different soils.

The key here is that it takes less manpower to make the hybrid seed, so the wholesale seed growers are much happier to let the old varieties fade away.

And as for the cost of hybrid seed, this is another mystery. Hybrids are not made by hand. Yes, they were in the past, but not for many years now. Most hybrid pollination nowadays is done by chemical sprays, not hand pollination, so hybrid seed shouldn't be any more expensive than other seed. There may be a slight extra cost associated with the spraying, but it certainly doesn't justify the high prices and tiny packets some companies are offering.

Basically, seeds are now bred for large industrial farms (which is where the money is) and you, the home grower, just get fobbed off with a few of the same thing. Modern advert copywriting sometimes tries to disguise this. So when you're offered something that's 'good for freezing', what they mean is that it was bred to ripen all at once for machine harvesting & you'll get a glut.

Here are a few examples from other catalogues that we found: How about 'really uniform fruit' - which often means 'inbred for the supermarket, narrow genetic base, may not adapt to your soil'. Or 'straight long shanks' usually means 'bred to fit the packing machine.' Or the best one yet - 'Leafless peas - easy to find the pods' translates as 'much smaller yield (the plants have no leaves !) - but at least now we've got rid of the leaves we can harvest them with a combine.' What a sad situation this is, with marketing people rather than gardeners writing the descriptions in modern seed catalogues.

In summary, hybrid seed can indeed have advantages for the industrial-chemical farmer who wants to harvest all at once. But for the small home grower who wants a good yield over a long period, real seeds are usually more productive.

This has been shown time and time again, and we think that once you have tried the real open-pollinated varieties we have found, you will agree.

 


A NOTE ON GENETIC ENGINEERING OF PLANTS
& OTHER GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs)

Although Ben studied genetic engineering at university, all of our breeding is by traditional methods only. On grounds of both safety and ethics we strongly oppose all genetic engineering and the patenting of plants.

The subject is very complex, but the dangers are very simple. We believe that, without exaggeration, the release of Genetically Modified crops truly is a dangerous practice that threatens the entire ecosystem.

It is simply not true that Genetically Modified crops will solve third-world food problems or require less pesticides. This is no more than advertising 'spin'.

Genetic engineering is NOT just a variant of what farmers and breeders have done for centuries. It is a completely new science that can give very odd, very different and highly unpredictable results. It is not 'natural' for a plant to have a fish gene in it, and there is no knowing what odd poisons the plant might make as a result of finding fish proteins floating around in its sap.

GM plants are probably unsafe to eat, but we don't know for sure, because due to intense political lobbying, none of these plants have undergone any food safety testing(!) - which is why it is important that food should be labelled as to whether it contains GM ingredients or not. The only benefit of GM crops is to the large multinationals that are using them to take control of the worlds food supply.

We will not knowingly have anything to do with genetically modified seeds